Sat 26
Twickenham 2XV
The Great Escape

The Great Escape

By Tom Moore
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A breathless second half ends with King's snatching victory in the last play of the game.

It was something of a voyage into the unknown for both these sides since it's not often the clubs meet due to their geography. One thing which was sure was that King's were not going to be in for anything other than a difficult ride given their opposition finished runners-up in the highest local reserve team league, Surrey Premier, last year and Twickenham 1XV are this season sitting atop London 2NW with the maximum 30pts for their 6 games. The weather was autumnal but dry and with a former National One referee and now Premiership touch judge doing the whistling all was set for the clash.

A stiff wind was blowing away from the clubhouse it was King's who started with the breeze on their backs and, as any team would, began by kicking for the corners to test the Twickenham back three. Early explorations proved fruitless though as, without an option of their own to kick, Twickenham carried the ball back probing for weaknesses in the home defence. It was to be the hosts who broke the scoring duck though as having worked their way into the Twickenham 22, King's exploited space on the left and winger Francis finished well, standing up his man before barging over. Robbie stepped up hitting an immaculate touchline conversion; 7-0.

Buoyed by this first score King's came again and stretched Twickenham left and right before Andy Cooke eluded the visitor's fringe defence to wriggle free, offloading to Tom Allott who in turn teed up John Walton to saunter in under the posts with Robbie adding the extras; 14-0. Just when the home supporters would have hoped that King's might turn the screw Twickenham seized the initiative and excerpted a period of pressure of their own. Twice they were thwarted by last ditch tackles, Ted and Robbie the men who King's had to thank. As it was the half drew to a close with the score unaltered, but Twickenham would have had good reason to feel they were still very much in the match.

With the wind now in their favour Twickenham quickly made clear that they had every intention of playing a territory game putting boot to ball in metronomic fashion coupled with a determined kick-chase. This proved effective as each time a Twickenham lineout was awarded it was all but uncontested as the referee allowed the savvy Twickenham hooker to align himself 2ft away from the mark in line with his front jumper guaranteeing a steady stream of possession. Sure enough the pressure told and Twickenham opened their account before long with a well taken try and conversion; 14-7. The tide was turning and with penalties being awarded against the home side with ominous regularity it wasn't long before Twickenham opted to kick one and close the gap; 14-10.

With their feathers well and truly ruffled King's needed to score next and that was just what they did. On a rare excursion into the visitors' 22 a lineout was won cleanly and King's rumbled their way 20m to the line with Fraser the man who splintered off at just the right time to cross the whitewash; 19-10. Twickenham redoubled their efforts and their star turn in the centres, who was a constant thorn in the side, made space in the middle and released a teammate for a score to once again narrow the gap which, with the conversion, was closed to two; 19-17. Twickenham smelled blood and following a further penalty to take the lead, 19-20, they manoeuvred into another threatening position from which their strong running flanker was released by his fly-half to crash over from close range; 19-25.

Only ten minutes remained and Twickenham were firmly in the box seat as King's were obliged to run everything back as anything less than 7pts would be useless to them. As time ticked away King's turned to their most experienced front row whose combined age of 128 had a telling effect. The Twickenham scrum was creaking and sure enough as the clock turned red the Twickenham half-back gambled and fed the ball to his second-row's feet. The ref blew for a free-kick and in the last play for King's it was now or never. Just as onlookers feared all hope was lost Paul saw the smallest of gaps in the red and black wall and stretched with every inch to the line beneath the poles. It was all down to Robbie as unflustered he knocked over his third conversion to secure the win; 26-25.

Anything this game lacked in quality it more than made up for in suspense. Twickenham more than played their part winning the second half 25-12 and adapting to the conditions over 80mins with maturity and aptitude which belied their relative lack of years. They will be tough to beat again and are sure to be in the mix at the top of the table when April rolls round. We look forward to seeing them at their Parkfields ground in February.

Tries: Dwan, Walton, Houlder, Griffin

Conversions: Blackburn x 3

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Match details

Match date

Sat 26, Oct 2013