Old Whit’s Dethrone Kings In Shield Final.
Web Master, 12 May 2003 18:22
KCS Old Boys RFC 13 - Old Whitgiftians RFC 24
There's an old adage that's bandied around in boxing that a good big 'un will always beat a good little 'un. The sublimely gifted Roy Jones Junior may have partially disproved that theory a few months back; when the pumped up middleweight won the heavyweight championship of the world. But then again he's boxing’s equivalent of Jonah Lomu "a freak of nature". The result on Saturday was however no freak event, simply just reward for a perfectly executed game plan.
KCS Old Boys (King's as they now prefer to call themselves, indicating their move aware from being purely an Old Boys club) went into Saturday’s game as favourites. Kings have won the Surrey Shield for the last two seasons (this seasons final being a repeat of last years, although the venue was reversed). They were recently crowned Surrey League One champions and their reward is a place in the London leagues next year (in which no doubt they will acquit themselves very well indeed, and we wish them all the best next season). Kings may have believed that they were destined to retain the Shield for the third consecutive year; virtually everything in the build up to the final had worked in their favour. Kings had received a bye into the final as their semi-final opponents Kingston had declined to fulfil the fixture, this was disappointing particularly after the Semi and Final had both been delayed to facilitate both Kingston and Kings Easter tours to the continent. During that time the grounds have hardened up considerably, which lends itself to Kings dynamic brand of all action rugby. Kings have a relatively small pack of forwards, a strong front row, but in the back five the emphasis is on being first to the breakdown, support play and continuity, allowing their explosive backs to change the angle of attack quickly.
While the Old Whit’s are no slouches themselves in the backs department, they also have a big pack, and their best chance of success on the day was to utilise this extra bulk to tie in the Kings pack and force them into set piece rugby. Ultimately on the day it was the pack that created the platform for their win. From the off Langley created havoc among the KCS pack at the restart, clattering in to the Kings forwards and forcing turnovers as they struggled to control possession. The O.W.’s mauled the ball from lineouts, and made big yardage repeatedly for their efforts. The first quarter of the game was quite frenetic and scrappy (not unnaturally) as both teams tried to settle themselves into some kind of pattern. Kings will not have been pleased with their ball retention, as too often for their liking the ball was stripped in contact or simply knocked on. Strong defence meant that there was no score for either side with fifteen minutes gone. Whit’s then hit a purple patch as they ran in three unanswered tries, Whit’s forced a lineout in the Kings 22 the ball was caught cleanly and flanker Ian Millner was driven over by his pack colleagues for the opening score of the game. Better was to follow as the O.W.’s really stuck the knife into King’s ambitions. The highlights of which were tries scored by skipper Nico Tuppen and centre partner Matt Courtenay. The first try saw prop Jon Bunn crucially involved in the move on two occasions, as first he forced a King’s turnover and then spun a pass out in the King’s twenty two which was dotted down by Courtenay.
With about seven minutes to go to the end of the first half Kings desperately tried to force a score against the unrelenting Whit’s defence. The ball was turned over in a ruck and Whit’s fly-half Pearce (who had an outstanding game in both attack and defence) put in a huge clearing kick which rolled in to touch just inside the Kings twenty-two. From the resulting lineout number eight Ben Wiseman (O.W.’s Man Of The Match) stole the opposition throw-in at the front of the line. Scrum Half Poole sped the ball to Pearce who threw a perfectly weighted pass to the oncoming Tuppen to burst through the King’s defence and score under the posts. Full back Andy Marshall converted two of the tries.
Whit’s finished the half without conceding any points, and one could have felt that it would be easy for the O.W.’s to ease off thinking that the game was won. Again the second half started off scrappily; Whit’s conceding an early penalty, which enabled Kings to get on the scoreboard. Kings came into the game more and more as they tried to increase the tempo and negate the superior strength of the O.W.’s pack. Kings were having no luck taking the ball up the middle as either Tuppen or Courtenay or both snuffed out some promising breaks. Allied to this some huge hits were being put in by the forwards, notably Dave Kerridge on the Kings tighthead prop who was quite naturally a little slow to get to his feet and somewhat groggy after the encounter. Fly-half Pearce made some timely tackles as he helped man the barricades out wide. Against the run of play Andreas Dracoulis punished some dreadful Kings defence and scored what was to be the O.W.’s final points of the game.
But ultimately Kings were now beginning to dominate possession as the Whit’s forwards tired and a score was going to come soon. As the O.W.’s began to feel the pressure one or two gaps began to appear and a little more space was created out wide. Kings scored two tries, one in each corner after some solid work. But ultimately they offered too little, too late and the Old Whitgiftian lead was never in danger of being caught. So the silverware was wrenched from Kings bosom, and due to their promotion to the London leagues they will not be able to gain revenge next season as they will participate in the more senior Surrey Cup.
Whit’s have some just reward for a good season in which they finished fifth in Surrey One, a position that should and could have been higher had the O.W.’s not lost to Battersea and Old Wellingtonians both of whom finished below the OW’s in the league. Both KCS (draw) and Old Pauline’s (win) have won promotion this season from Surrey One, so if the OW’s build on Saturday’s performance it isn’t beyond the realms of possibility that Whit’s could be celebrating a return themselves to London Rugby. Here’s to a successful 2002-03 season and looking forward to September and the commencement of Season 2003-04…