Glorious Return for the Guanos
by Paul Cocker
Match report: KN Vets vs Guanos Vets
For the Guanos, a riotous return to Kings Norton RFC. For KN Vets, a hard old evening against superior opposition. A 5-43 win for Guanos did however still allow for some crumbs of comfort for the Kings Men.
Pre-match, Kings had two and a half objectives:
1. Have some fun.
2. Don't let Pete May score.
Credit to the Guanos, they 100% obliged on one of those objectives.
Fly half Chris Crutchley got the game started with a fine hanging kick-off. The Guanos however announced their arrival with a furious pace of rugby. The runners came from depth and at pace and immediately had the hosts' defence on the back foot. Once in behind that defence, Kings were always going to struggle to regroup, let alone snuffle out the attack. The early blitz didn't take long to yield a converted try for the men in lilac, lime and non-matching socks. From the restart, an infringement from the Guanos allowed Kings to establish field position from which to set up an attack. Despite the earnest endeavour, outside centre Tom Saunders was bundled into touch in the defenders' 22. The Guanos called the five man line out but somewhat bizarrely, threw it long into the grateful arms of unmarked number 8 Bully. This caused a state of utter bewilderment amongst Kings; none of us would willingly pass the ball to Bully, and heaven forbid we would throw line out ball to him. Yet the opposition did exactly that. There followed astonishing speed of thought and speed of feet, as Bully charged for the line, stepped the scrum half and went over for a try. Alas, no conversion, but it got Kings onto the scoresheet at 5-7.
The wind was unfortunately knocked out of the hosts' sails from the Guanos' restart. We've all being playing the game long enough (and no one as long as Ronnie Bunce) to know that sometimes, that funny shaped ball does funny things. Said bounce fell perfectly for the chasers and the ensuing hack and chase got the visitors straight back onto the scoresheet. The rest of the half was essentially one-way traffic. Kings put up stout defence throughout the half, but it was ultimately an exercise in damage limitation as they tried to slow the game down and keep the muscular Guanos attackers in check. A further three tries for the lilac and limes gave them a solid half-time lead. There were nevertheless modest positives for Kings: Pete May had not scored (chance would have been a fine thing) and the Kings set scrum was not just holding its own, but getting a bit of a nudge on. The front row warhorses of Messrs Buckle, Edwards and Saunders (first name Roger) gave the hosts a much needed platform from which to get some composure.
Come the second half, the temperature was dropping, but the pace of rugby from the Guanos was still red hot. Whilst the hosts were still very much the second best team on the park, they were able to keep the visitors rather more in check after half time. Tackles round the chest had already proven to be ineffective, whereas the old-fashioned technique of hurling yourself at a bigger boy's legs was paying dividends. Granted, the Guanos were still often able to make the off-load, but the Kings' defence was holding firmer in the second half than it did in the first. That showed in the second half try count: only two tries to the Guanos (and no more gift-wrapped openings for Bully).
With the final whistle, the Kings Men breathed a sigh of relief. A tough lesson in hard and fast rugby, from a group of players that had played at a higher standard than many of the hosts, and it showed. Beaten, but not completely broken, Kings regrouped in the bar for a fine pint or two of real ale: Mary Jane, from the Ilkley brewery of Yorkshire - a fine golden session ale at a very refreshing 3.5% ABV. The brewer's website says that this brew goes very well with goat's cheese tart, but this punter's discerning palate thought it went very with with Julian Hands' chilli.
Returning to the pre-match objectives:
1. Have some fun - well, in a perverse masochistic way, some of the game was quite enjoyable.
1.5 Win - hmm, well, let's move swiftly on.
2. Don't let Pete May score - yes, mission accomplished, ten out of ten on that front, well done all.
Thanks also to the new players who turned out for Kings: Mike May, Jonathan May and Josh May. We look forward to welcoming you back to Ash Lane.
Kings Norton Vets return to the field of dreams on Wednesday 22 February against Bourneville Vets. Hopefully they will prove to be smaller, less fit, slower, less skilful and less energetic than the lilac and limes.