Kings Norton 24 Coventry Welsh 26
Midlands Four West (South)
KINGS may have been beaten at the death but they can take plenty of positives from a pulsating league opener played in excellent spirits by both sides on Saturday.
The Welsh, with one match already under their belts, were more organised and started strongly, pinning Kings down in their own half for some 25 minutes without finding a way through the home side’s resolute defence.
The pre-season work with his small mixed squad of young and experienced players by new coach Chris Hands paid off as they thwarted everything the Coventry side threw at them.
After the hosts had twice held up certain scores, Mark Waudby’s sin-binning for a late tackle provided the gap for Coventry Welsh to break through for their first try, duly converted on 27 minutes.
Any thoughts by the home supporters this score would then lead to a rout were proved wrong as Kings hit back.
Changing their tactics and running hard at their opponents, they pushed Cov Welsh deep into their own half and, following a neat interchange between the half backs, space was created for the first time for Kings’ supporting forwards to pile on the pressure.
Richard Revell took the ball on and powered over for Kings’ first of four tries, before Paul Crocker’s long range kick flew narrowly wide.
With the home club’s tails up, a shell-shocked Welsh soon conceded a well taken second score created from the kick-off.
The ball was gathered and kicked deep into the visitors’ territory, from where a massive Kings forwards effort saw them camped on the try line and eventually a Hands offload to a charging Graeme Garrett saw the latter pass to Tom Singleton who scored a try converted by Crocker to give Kings a 12-7 half time lead.
Kings’ pack began the second period as they had left off, taking the game to the Welsh. From one early clearance Kings’ new young full back Ryan Smitherman collected the ball deep in home territory and his speed took him past two attempted tackles up to the 22m line.
He then fed the supporting Mike Smallen who was eventually tackled short of the line. Kings kept the pressure on and it was that man Smallen again who gathered, attacked and skilfully fed the supporting Chris Minott whose unstoppable run took him over the line for Kings’ third try to which Crocker added the extras to make it 19-7.
Coventry Welsh responded and their speedy backs might have scored but for a try-saving tackle by full back Smitherman.
However, Welsh continued their good 15-minute spell and almost scored on two more occasions, but Kings’ spirited defence held firm and they worked themselves back upfield, eventually gaining their bonus point fourth try when they finished off a great move.
It was created when Smitherman’s clearance kick was collected by Smallen who fed Revell who had popped up on the wing and his powerful run drew the defence to provide space for Crocker who made no mistake with a try in the corner which made it 24-7 with just 16 minutes to go.
The Welsh came back strongly to score a converted try when their fast centre broke through the middle, evading two tackles to score between the posts.
Once again Kings piled on the pressure and began working their way into the visitors’ half where they camped for some five minutes without gaining any further scoring opportunities.
It was then that Kings lost both their composure and discipline and eventually the match as, with seven minutes remaining, they were swiftly reduced to 13 men after losing their two most experienced players to the sin-bin in quick succession.
First it was Hands for illegally holding on and then Tom Kendrick for a high tackle. The Welsh saw their chance and piled on the pressure and their heavyweights bundled over for two quickfire tries, one converted, to gain themselves an unexpected victory in the dying moments.
Coach Hands and club president Mark Pearson were full of praise for Kings’ very spirited squad of senior and young players, whose commitment and attitude to training and the game was a revelation.
Kings visit Harbury in their second league match on Saturday.