Kings Norton 34 Claverdon 14
Midlands Four West (South)
KINGS NORTON finally restored some pride against Claverdon, to whom they had lost in the last three encounters, with a convincing victory on Saturday which all but ended the visitors’ hopes of promotion, writes Liam Hunt.
This game was won by the home side’s powerful pack who dominated play for 60 minutes, ably supported by their mixed bag of out of position first and second team players.
Third placed Claverdon then forced the game to change to uncontested scrums and finally gained some possession which enabled them to register a couple of scores late on.
Kings, playing with the elements, swiftly gave notice of their intent when, following an opening 12-minute spell camped in Claverdon’s 22, Chris Minot crashed through the centre in typical fashion, only to be stopped desperately close to the try line.
Kings maintained this initial pressure, pinning Claverdon down and turning over plenty of their visitors’ ball, and eventually the break came and the ball was fed out to Gaz Johnson who made no mistake in powering over to open the scoring with an unconverted try.
It was apparent the shell-shocked visitors were going to be no match for Kings’ inspired pack whose driving play and solid scrums denied them any quality ball and they soon succumbed to a second score when prop forward Nick West crossed the line, before captain Shane Rees added the extras.
The visitors remained pinned down in defence and on the half hour mark Sam Back capitalised on a great passing spell initiated by the rampant Rob McGhee – playing out of position at number ten – to score a great try, again converted by Rees.
The home team then began throwing the ball around a little casually and were forced to defend for the first time after 38 minutes when Claverdon intercepted a long pass and, but for a strong chase back by Alex Styliano, the Lions would have scored, but it remained 19-0 at half time.
Despite playing against the strong wind, Kings continued their chase for a substantial victory into the second half by keeping the game tight and starving their plucky visitors of any decent ball.
Had it not been for some solid Claverdon defending, Kings might have soon had a hatful of tries, but they finally got further reward on 54 minutes when replacement prop forward Craig Hughes gathered well and drove through a despairing defence to score a great unconverted try to gain Kings the bonus point.
With their tails up, the Hopwood Park team added a fifth try when Johnson, following a powerful drive by Chris Hands and the supporting Mark Waudby, gathered a clever pass to race over for his second score on the hour mark.
Claverdon then ran out of suitable front row players and the game went to uncontested scrums, allowing them some much-needed possession and the use of their fast men to cross twice in a five-minute spell.
However, it was far too late in the game to make any material difference to the result and, once Kings settled back into the game and regained their dominance, Ben Boyce finished off the scoring when he crashed over for the final and unconverted try.
Sixth placed Kings will aim to avoid an upset when they travel to second bottom Coventrians on Saturday, before finishing their league programme at home to Coventry Welsh on Saturday, April 16 (3pm).
After the Welsh game there will be a memorial match at 4.30pm to honour Scott James, who passed away late last year, between a mixture of prison officers who Scott worked with and older Kings players.