Rugby Lions 64 Kings Norton 12
Midlands Four West (South)
KINGS ventured into the den of runaway leaders Rugby Lions on Saturday with hope and intention of another good showing against clearly the best team in the league, but the final scoreline failed to indicate how well the Hopwood team performed against a squad of players who Kings’ president and coach Mark Pearson described after the game as the “most well organised and co-ordinated team” he had watched for many a year.
He went on to state: “Rugby fielded an exceptionally high quality set of three-quarters who took full advantage of our inexperience and took us apart with vision and adept attacking play.”
Kings had been narrowly defeated 10-0 earlier in the season by the Lions at Hopwood Park in October when they were unlucky to not gain a losing bonus point, but this time the home team were clearly prepared to prove their worth in front of their supporters, who expected another massive win at Webb Ellis Road.
Kings began well and were soon awarded a penalty but captain Shane Rees saw his kick fall just short of the crossbar. The ball was cleared but, after Rugby’s first attack was repelled, a clearance kick which failed to find touch was gathered and the home backs’ slick counter-attack saw them cross the line for the first of their six first half tries, four of which were converted.
Kings interspersed these scores with plenty of possession, hard tacking and unending endeavour, as the forwards battled throughout to gain ground, but every time the ball was kicked away or possession lost and Rugby capitalised by clicking into gear and showing their class.
They rode tackles or completed clever passes, often leaving their opposition for dead and scoring from virtually every opportunity as they opened a 38-0 half time lead.
The home crowd were expecting much of the same in the second period and Rugby scored their seventh try between the posts after 42 minutes but Kings were not prepared to be overrun and changed their game-plan to close the game with tight forward play.
These efforts were rewarded when, after a 14-minute spell of driving play and pressure, second row Rob McGhee crossed the home try line and Rees converted.
Rugby soon hit back and again sliced through the visitors’ defence to score another converted try.
Then, after a home player was sin-binned for constant infringements, Kings’ back row Sam Back drove over after a powerful period of forward phases to gain Kings’ second try, although Rees narrowly missed the conversion.
Rugby scored two more tries but Kings never surrendered, which can be put into perspective by the fact this was the first time this season Rugby had conceded any tries at home.
Kings, who remain fourth, will regroup and prepare for their next league match at home to Stoke Old Boys on January 31 (2.15pm).