Fresh from an unusually long break from frigid February rugby, the leisure-softened Tourists set off to Kentish suburbia and Westcombe Park. A tough place to go for any fey metropolitan, Zain in particular was seen to keep his head down, lest this unrepentant Lib Dem councillor from Kingston-upon-Thames should be waylaid by someone of the “will of the people” persuasion in this most Tory of shires.
After a previous visit in winter 2019 we were excited to test ourselves once more on the Under-9s pitch usually prepared especially for our brand of narrow hammer-meet-anvil style of play. However, after a trek from the clubhouse we were met with a more interesting proposition: a pitch with a decided slope from one end to another, and lines that looked as though they had been burned into the pitch. Admittedly there was some enthusiasm for clearer lines after some unfortunate mishaps in the previous meeting between the two side.
A high-tempo warm-up left many Tourists looking worse-for-wear; the regret etched on the reddened, sunken eyes of the more enthusiastic Friday night revellers was particularly memorable. However, after the requisite amount of running sideways we managed to begin the match.
It was good to see the 65-year old hooker from Westcombe making another start. He had proved a tricky quarry in the previous fixture given complete reluctance to physically grapple with his diminutive frame. A strong start from the Tourists relatively quickly set the course for the first half. We had the wind and the slope and we made hay as quickly as we were able, helped by Paul turning the finesse on with his kicking game, as we pinned them back into a sunken corner on the left-hand side of their try line.
A number of tries followed, including one by the human pinball, Will Baker, who managed to bounce off all comers as he circuitously made for the line. Miraculously we even scored from a backline move, with Jordan Boylen hurtling over after running a very tidy line.
After one of their veterans was wheeled off injured due to a four man Westcombe pile-on which went awry for everyone except the proposed victim, Henry Pritchard, Westcombe Park gained the initiative (and the slope / wind) and pushed back to almost level the score by the final whistle. Thankfully the Tourists’ laurel-resting did them no lasting damage and we were able to take our modest celebrations to the bar and the Six Nations matches.
Special mention for Pond from across the Pond. Two vital tries and a lot of good work in the scrum.