Kings Norton 10 Claverdon 13
Midlands Four West (South)
BEN MANNERS scored two first half tries but Kings succumbed to another narrow defeat as they gained just a losing bonus point following their erratic and error-strewn first half efforts against a compact and lively Claverdon team.
The penalty account against the home side was massive as they struggled to find their form and after 13 minutes they fell behind to a Doz Ward penalty for a dubious high tackle, which was soon followed by a second successful Ward kick as the home side were then penalised for crossing in defence.
Once Kings pulled themselves together – ceasing the poor kicking out of hand and settling down to play more expansive and open rugby – they finally brought their speedy wingers into the game and brothers Manners caused serious problems to the visitors’ defence.
After 25 minutes both were involved in the home side’s opening score as Jack Manners’ mazy run down the left wing came to a stop ten metres short of the line and the ball was cleared out by the visitors who kicked long, but it was caught by Ben Manners who streaked away to score out wide.
Claverdon responded well and forced Kings back but with four minutes of the first half remaining Ben Manners caught yet another clearance on the halfway to race through despairing tackles for his second try close to the corner flag to give his side a 10-6 half time lead.
Claverdon began the second period strongly, taking the game to Kings, and a defensive forward battle ensued as both sides found it difficult to break through powerful tackles and any home possession that Kings scrum half Jack Barwick gained was either kicked away or wasted by poor passing by his backs, who failed to breakthrough or feed to their wing strength.
True, the home side worked tirelessly to overcome Claverdon, winning most of the scrum battles, however the visitors’ lineout play was solid and in all areas they were generally quicker to the ball in loose play.
After 57 minutes Claverdon kicked a penalty to Kings’ 22m line which was won and a powerful and clever run tight to the left hand upright by their Fijian centre Seru Rokotuiloma gave them an easy conversion through Ward as they regained the lead.
Kings pressurised for the remainder of this well contested game but then missed two kickable penalties before losing Jack Manners with a broken nose and running out of steam to finish a close second for the second game in a row.
Fourth placed Kings visit lowly Coventrians on Saturday (2.15pm).