Atherstone 17 Kings Norton 22
Midlands Four West (South)
THIS encounter took place just over 12 months from Kings’ last visit to this corner of north Warwickshire when they lost by two points, but this time the visitors prevailed in a similarly tight game played in a howling wind on Saturday.
Kings are now up to seventh after a third win in four league matches but they had to battle hard to secure victory as the hosts took an early lead by pressurising from the off and pinning their visitors deep in their own half.
After ten minutes Atherstone’s lively back row created the easiest of scores by driving over for a converted try.
Kings finally settled though and forced their way into the match by kicking long at every opportunity.
Their stronger forwards held the advantage in the tight play whereas Atherstone’s persistence around the fringes often thwarted the men from Hopwood with regular counter-attacks, so neither side was able to take command.
After 35 minutes full back James Pritchard showed his versatility as he tracked his strong pack’s impetus towards the corner flag and seized upon a loose ball five metres out to cross in the corner for an unconverted try which brought the visitors within two points of their hosts.
Then, as the clock ticked down towards half time, Kings were penalised for crossing and Atherstone’s captain extended their small lead by accurately slotting the ball through the posts to put his side 10-5 ahead at the break.
During half time Kings captain Shane Rees called for greater efforts and within three minutes of the restart Kings powered forward and an unstoppable run by Chris Hands saw the back row crash over the whitewash before Rees slotted over the extras to give his a side a two-point advantage.
The game ebbed and flowed and then midway through the second period Atherstone missed a simple penalty in front of the posts, but following this they did regain the lead from the restart when Kings’ long kick was well fielded at speed and the ball carrier’s powerful mazy run split Kings wide open, leading to a converted try close to the posts.
This proved to be Atherstone’s final score though as Kings came back strongly and, after a lengthy spell of powerful rugby, the visitors finally broke Atherstone’s resistance when centre Pete Crompton raced over and made his captain’s life easier by running around to touch down between the posts, allowing Rees to add the extras which restored Kings’ lead at 19-17.
Kings’ pressure was maintained and, although Atherstone were visibly tiring, when awarded a simple penalty the visitors decided to play it safe and Rees extended his side’s lead to five points with a successful kick.
Even though the home side came back strongly, Kings’ defence was up to the task and replacement winger Arjun Chauhan – on for the final ten minutes – thwarted one dash for the line with an excellent tackle as Kings held out.
Kings return to league action at home to bottom side Birmingham Civil Service on December 5, but before that they host Shropshire side Bishops Castle & Onny Valley in the Midlands Junior Vase second round on Saturday.