Saturday 22nd November 2014
The King’s 1st XV returned to winning ways with an impressive victory in dank, damp conditions at Reigate.
The quality of the game owed much to the unobtrusive and authoritative refereeing of Harlequins scrum half Karl Dickson who was, unsurprisingly, always up with the play, and whose accurate and clearly communicated decisions and transparent even-handedness won the respect and confidence of all the players.
The end result was an entertaining game in which King’s superiority in the backs, and an improving performance by the pack, were enough to see off a spirited ORs’ second half rally. King’s half backs Will Slater and Tom Dugarin both had fine games, kicking deep and accurately for position, combined with some strong running. The King’s forwards collectively deserve great credit for working well in the absence of both Alex Humphries and Louis Mather, with back rower Diggy Forshaw and prop Joe Mason producing outstanding performances.
Reigatians had rather the better of the early exchanges, and secured the first points through a well struck penalty goal by their impressive rookie left wing Kariym Irving. In response, King’s tightened their game, and sustained pressure led to flanker Barry Williams rumbling over powerfully for a try, converted by Gareth Stoppani. King’s second score resulted from some enterprising handling in the slippery conditions, which created a two man overlap on the left some 50 meters out. Ball carrier George Taylor drew the lone defender, and an outrageous dummy and step inside left Taylor with a clear run to touch down under the posts, Stoppani adding the extras. Stoppani added a penalty goal, and then fly half Dugarin combined power and elusiveness to cross for King’s third try, Stoppani slotting the routine conversion. The half time score was 3-24.
Reigatians responded strongly in the second half, and King’s defended desperately and effectively in their own 22 for a sustained period. After conceding several penalties, King’s debutant winger Ashley Smith was penalised for a deliberate knock-on, and received a yellow card, which was probably as much a consequence of the recent sequence of play in the red zone as anything else. Reigatians took advantage of the situation to rumble over for a forwards’ try, converted by Irving. King’s survived the sin bin period without further mishap, as the team combined to keep the ORs pinned back in their half.
The game was still in the balance, and in the later stages the King’s pack achieved superiority in the scrums, and parity at the line out. The bench players contributed significantly to the team’s efforts, and King’s once more were able to attack from close range, giving Stoppani the opportunity to swerve his way over for a touchdown in the left corner. Stoppani’s conversion brought the score to 10-29.
Reigatians were not yet done, and they finally switched their attacking line to score a fine try out on the right, Irving converting. King’s surged back to the attack, and were awarded a penalty under the posts. They showed appropriate respect for their tenacious opponents by slotting the goal (Stoppani), and closed out the game as 17-32 winners.
As a club, Reigatians are in a horribly challenging position, as most of their superb facility has been wiped out through an arson attack. We wish them well in their holding operation during rebuilding; and with more confidence their 1st XV will trouble many sides in London 2SW as the season progresses.
Results in the rest of the league produced no real surprises this week. The Alleynians pushed London Cornish hard to lose 16-19, meaning that King’s are now 4 points clear of the OAs, in 4th place. Our meeting at Motspur Park on 6th December will be most interesting. Also on the 6th, there is a top of the table clash, with Totts travelling up to Cornish.
King’s starting XV: Joe Mason, Harry Kersley, Jonny Kiddle (captain); John Walton, James Currie; Barry Williams, Chris Breslin, Ed Forshaw; Will Slater, Tom Dugarin; Ashley Smith, George Taylor, Luke Minors, Patrick Smith; Gareth Stoppani.
Bench: Brett Williams, James Williams, Chris Attoe.