On Saturday we travelled to Hungerford to take on a combination of their 2s and vets in our 2nd pre-season friendly. A squad size in the low twenties was fantastic news.
By the end of 80 minutes, Kingsclere proved the more attacking, better reacting and purposely organised team. The final score was 44-0 to the boys in red and white hoops with tries from Ryan, Ander, Rory, Pikey, Son of Chris Keatley (x2) & Mavis (x2). Ander also slotted 2 of the conversions.
The game was by no means a push over, Hungerford could feel hard done by not to have scored a try or two, but this a testament to our defence, everyone was blowing hard by the end.
It was a game that the spectators struggled to pick their Man of the Match or Dick of the Day due to everyone having a solidly consistent game. Not everyone can get a mention, but there are a few that stick out. ‘Retired’ players Boo and Mavis returned to the fold as clearly they couldn’t stay away for long, hope to see more of you guys!
Young David Dave must receive an honourable mention for his first go in the front row, he rose to the occasion lasting 20 minutes without taking a backward step against a heavier and more experienced opponent.
Sean continues to impress with his relentless support play, offering himself for virtually every crash ball. Sean is a prime example of what happens when you spend some time learning from your team mates and working to develop yourself.
Ander had a great game in his first as captain. As pack leader, Chris Pike brought an even greater level of physicality to the team than normal. He exploited gaps, scored, supported & accidentlyknocked out an elderly gentleman.
New signing Jimmy again had an absolute cracker of a game. Luckily, he got significantly more ball in hand time this week compared to the Amesbury game and we got to see a lot more of what he can offer. Not only can he produce darting runs, his beautifully weighted box kick made a try for Ryan and his versatility shone throughout. He had stints across most of the backs position and showed a variety of skills that I sincerely hope we continue to see.
Jimmy’s presence in the team is down to Pudsey’s recruitment efforts – we all need to try the same. Pudsey must also receive an honourable mention for making it through a whole game without getting broken! Well done Ben!
A debutant for Kingsclere was Quintin, who has joined the committee and, upon hearing we might be a little light on numbers, rocked up to training on Wednesday and committed to the match. Despite his claims of too much age and not enough speed, he had an absolute stormer on the back row. We hope to be seeing Q back in a Kingsclere shirt very soon.
The victory was lovely, the unbreached defence was better, but the effort, teamwork and desire was absolutely superb. It is easier to produce these qualities when we have large squads. We open our league account hosting Farnham 4s at home on Saturday 14th September with a 1500 KO at Fortress Fieldgate. Even if you only fancy a brief run out, let someone know and rock up. Invite friends and family to join in from the sidelines.
Our first pre-season match saw a return to Amesbury RFC – one of last year’s pre-season friendlies. Last year it ended up with us on the receiving end of a 60 point beating, so clearly this was always going to be a tough game.
The night before the game, our squad list looked very healthy with 23 names down, but due to some pull-outs and no shows, we arrived with a bare 17, this needs to be addressed for future games! The difference in squad size put us on the back foot, as Amesbury had a large (in both sense of the term) squad and could quickly rotate players. Our scrum, more than held its own for the majority of the game, particular mentions going to Tom & Mike there. A cracking all round game by another forward was Sean , who carried the ball relentlessly throughout the game.
Debutante Jimmy also had a strong showing at outside centre. When the ball made its way to him, his darting runs, bullet passes and space-finding kicks showed promise for the new Kingsclere.
For the most part, our defence was strong, especially the individual tackling, which was excellent by everyone. This was epitomised by Simon Goodson, who is now plying his trade out on the wing, but still tackles in his own very ‘special’ style !
Our attacking play wasn’t quite as strong, partly due to this being the first game of the season, partly due to the conditions and partly due to this being the first time plenty of the team had played together. We did, however, score a try, Rob Doble squirted through the middle of a ruck and exploded over the try-line. Alex Hiscock slotted the conversion in the very blustery conditions.
The final score line of 36-7 showed a few things. Firstly it showed the points difference was half that of last year against a team that went unbeaten in their league in the 18-19 season. Secondly it showed we have progressed and have much to be proud of.
There was one significant downside to the match, which was the grim injury to Captain Mark McCorry. An accident on the wing involving a 25 stone behemoth, an unfortunate angle and Mark’s hip has led to surgery and an extended hospital stay. We wish Mark all the best and hope his recovery is very rapid – he will be a huge loss to the playing squad.Thanks to everyone that stayed to look after him while the ambulance arrived.