King’s produced one of their finest performances of the season to overcome a dangerous Alleynians team in an entertaining contest far out east in the Dulwich wastelands. The King’s team had to overcome the loss to injury of both props (Joe Mason and captain Jon Kiddle) and returning wing Harrison Scowsill before half time. The restructured team showed great character and determination, to combine several excellent tries with a superior defensive performance, to secure an ultimately comfortable win. Fullback Gareth Stoppani contributed 21 points to the total, through 2 penalty goals, 5 conversions and a try. Second row Max Rawlinson put in an impressive 80 minutes, with one powerful open play tackle setting up excellent field position, leading to a score shortly after. Rory Jones did a fine job letting loose the backs whenever there was a sniff of an attacking opportunity.
The first half was a generally even affair, with Alleynians shading the line out possession, and King’s edging the scrums. An early Stoppani penalty goal was negated by a converted Alleynian try from a lineout drive, and Alleynians, playing against the wind, stretched their advantage to 12-3 with a well taken try by the right wing. King’s responded with a try by Alex Humphries, who broke powerfully from the base of a solid, advancing scrum to cross the line and touch down. Stoppani's conversion brought the score to 12-10 in Alleynians’ favour, where matters rested at half time.
Playing into a stiff breeze and with the replacements’ bench now empty, King’s were not obvious favourites to win; but the team showed great spirit to shrug off these apparent adversities. They went right back to work, with a range of ball-carriers showing just how dangerous this team can be with sufficient quality possession. Centre George Taylor sped over on the right to put King’s in front of their hosts, and Stoppani’s fine conversion brought the score to 12-17. A converted Alleynians’ try from another line out drive brought the score to 17-17, and a yellow carding threatened to take momentum away from King’s. In the event, the team went up through a couple of gears, and a fine try by Diggy Forshaw plus the conversion and a successful penalty goal by Stoppani propelled King’s into a 10 point lead. Alleynians struck back with a converted (bonus point) try to close the gap to 24-27 – but after that, it was all King’s. Tom Smith ducked and dived to create a small opening to score out on the left, and shortly after Luke Minors flew over on the right. Finally, Stoppani attacked at speed from deep, raced past or around most of the cover, mesmerised the last two defenders with a stuttering step, and then powered away to score under the posts. King’s comfortably closed out the game, finishing with strength and confidence.
This week’s results return King’s to 4th place in the league, leading Warlingham and Alleynians by just 2 points, and Weybridge by 4. Totts' victory over Cornish effectively ensures them of the championship and promotion to London 1 South, and we look forward to welcoming them to the Club next Saturday, 28th March. At the other end of the table, Tadley seem doomed to relegation, and Farnham’s 37-7 win over Portsmouth pushes them 3 points clear of the second relegation slot.