Match report by Kelvin Walton aka Gary US Bonds
By Trevor Wingate
Mistakes cost King's dear
By Gary ‘US’ Bonds
Winchester’s powerful and well-organised XV took full advantage of uncharacteristic King’s generosity to record a valuable away win, in a hard fought and rather scrappy contest. The ultimate difference between the sides was Winchester’s lower error rate and superior support play for much of the match, though King’s will take encouragement from a strong finish.
King’s had the better of the game’s momentum in the early stages, but failed to convert pressure into tries. The pace was frantic – too frantic – and home ball was quite frequently turned over via drops and misplaced passes, and failure to provide ball carriers with sufficiently close support. Winchester opened the scoring with a break away try (unconverted), the defenders’ line speed providing the opportunity to gather a bobbling ball behind the King’s backline. King’s answered with a penalty goal converted by home team Man of the Match Gareth Stoppani, who has recovered from injury and returned to action after his summer’s 7s’ campaign with some guys wearing dubiously coloured jerseys.
Winchester restored their momentum with a well-constructed (and converted) try based on a series of rolling mauls and direction switches. King’s hit back quickly, with Stoppani gathering a cunningly-flighted flat Rory Jones diagonal kick, and then combining power and elusiveness to score out to the right; Gareth converted to bring the score to back to 10-12 in Winchester’s favour. Winchester opened the gap to 10-17, capitalising on an effective and patent build-up. A subsequent King’s attack ran out of momentum in mid-field around the Winchester 22, and fly half Rory Jones conjured 3 points for the home team by spinning and calmly kicking a towering left-footed drop goal.
Winchester opened the gap close to half time, when the powerful number 5 drove down their left wing, breaking several tackle attempts on the way to another unconverted try. So it was 13-22 at the break, with a 4-try bonus point already in the bank for the visitors.
The second half was closely contested, with Winchester edging proceedings to secure victory – but it was never comfortable for them. King’s initially continued their profligacy: Winchester capitalised on the breakdown of an ambitious move in the home 22 to record their fifth try, and followed up with a penalty goal conversion to bring the score to 13-30.
It is to King’s credit that the pack achieved real and effective forward momentum in the final quarter of the game. Sustained pressure led to Louis Mather driving over for a try which Gareth Stoppani converted. King’s were looking aggressively for further scores, only for their efforts to be terminated by the final whistle, to the clear relief of Winchester’s large group of travelling supporters.
If Winchester’s goal kicking had been more accurate, their margin of victory might easily have been 20 points rather than 10. The King’s squad will be looking hard at themselves to find the necessary improvements in control, coordination and effective support play to fulfil the potential of the side’s obvious speed and athletic talent. The margin is quite small, and once the squad can discipline itself sufficiently and react to the situations around and in front of them to build up attacks with patience and precision, not necessarily try to smash through unsupported on all first phase possession, and to make good decisions on whether to retain, offload, hold or kick, good results against the stronger teams of this division will surely follow.
Next week the 1st XV travels to Portsmouth for an encounter with the 9th placed club, who share the same P4 W2 L2 record as ours, with just 2 bonus points separating us. KO 3:00 PM at Norway Rd, Portsmouth PO3 5EP, 023 9266 0610.
King’s squad versus Winchester: Harry Kersley, James Williams, Jon Kiddle (captain); Jack Dennison, Alex Humphries; Chris Breslin, Louis Mather, Edward Forshaw; Jonny Bell, Rory Jones; Tom Smith, Tom Dugarin, George Taylor, Gareth Stoppani; Will Nelson. Bench (all used): Joe Mason, John Walton, Harrison Scowsill
King’s scorers: Tries: Stoppani (1), Mather (1); conversions: Stoppani (2); penalty goals: Stoppani (1); drop goals: Jones (1).