The visit of OWs reunited King's for the first time this season with familiar opposition from last season's Surrey Alliance league. Last year King's achieved a double over the men from South Croydon, 6-39 and 27-0, although these final tallies masked the competitive nature of both outings in which the halftime scores were 3-3 and 8-0 respectively. After an inauspicious start to this campaign OWs had won the last two and consequently came into the encounter with their tails up.
With the rain from the earlier in the day having passed the air was dry but the grass wet as the referee blew his whistle and quickly it became clear that it was going to be a testing encounter as OWs were bristling with robust energy. It was they who were first to raise the referee's arm as from a well organised lineout catch and drive they barged over for an unconverted try; 0-5. With the early momentum in their favour OWs wasted little time in doubling their lead with a similarly achieved five pointer just a few minutes later; 10-0. This second score appeared to spur King's into action and as they palpably upped the tempo mid-way through the half the burly OWs forwards began conceding penalties and chirping incessantly to the referee's growing displeasure. It wasn't quite happening for King's though and they were not able to turn territory into points as the visitors defended their line with gusto to keep them off the scoreboard at the break.
Straight from the off in the second period King's jostled themselves into position inside the OW's 22. A lineout steal on an OW throw followed and the play moved wide and after a couple more quick phases Ted was on hand to skip over to open the King's account; 5-10. From the restart the ball was secured and spun wide to Tom Smith on the right wing who chipped then stepped his man and fly-hacked on before out pacing the full back to score a fine try in the shadow of the posts from where Jack Smith converted; 12-10. OWs might have felt a sense of déjà-vu from last season as the game could have begun to slip away, but instead they reverted to the 'pick-and-go' tactic that had served them well earlier in the match and seized the initiative with a further try of their own to nudge ahead again; 12-15.
As the sky grew darker King's now produced their most sustained period of pressure and having missed a penalty kick did score again adding a third try from Lorcan to seize the points advantage back; 17-15. OW's were rocking and their increasingly vocal complaints once again began to irk the man with the whistle culminating in a stiff warning for their skipper. It was doubly frustrating therefore that having put themselves in sight of the winning line King's then gifted OW's their fourth score as a series of missed tackles allowed their centre to waltz over; 17-20.
King's wasted no time in getting to the other end of the pitch and but for some better luck might have taken back the lead they relinquished moments earlier. However, it was not to be as first the otherwise excellent line-out malfunctioned and then in what was to be the last play an OW's prop retired himself from the action meaning that it was left to the visitor's half-back to collect the ball from an uncontested scrum and kick it out to signal the end of the proceedings.
A disappointing loss but King's can take solace from the fact that they played well enough to win the second half 17-10. OW's are plainly a capable side, particularly adept at getting their strike runners on the ball and this season appear to have stepped up the physicality of their game. If they can keep their team together they will be a match for most sides in Surrey Conference 1. For King's it's a week off from the league before a local derby with Old Emanuel awaits on 23rd November.
Tries: T Smith, Rickards, O'Duffy
Conversions: J Smith