KCS Wimbledon further proved their credentials as one of the best school teams around as they defeated St Paulâ€™s 15-10 in Wimbledon today.
It was a victory built on the most solid of foundations; aggressive and immaculate defence, outstanding kicking, and a rolling maul that must be the envy of every side in the country.
That rolling maul soon yielded points for KCS as a mammoth forty yard drive saw them set up camp on the St Paulâ€™s try line. The away defence could only last so long and were probably happy to give away just a penalty, which was duly knocked over by the sublime KCS full back, Charlie Stuart, to give them a 3-0 lead.
Despite this though St Paulâ€™s had actually started the game pretty well and had dominated possession and territory in the opening period. However the staunch KCS defence halted their progress as they entered the 22 time and time again, with their openside Tom Middlehurst leading the way, and whenever KCS did get a hold of their ball the long and accurate kicking game completely eased the pressure.
That maul was always a threat though and it was soon to bring further reward as in an attempt to halt KCS progress St Paulâ€™s giant number four was sent to the bin for side entry, with the referee knowing that it was an attempt to halt the momentum.
It was soon to bring further reward as Stuart once again put in a devilishly accurate kick from a penalty to set up a lineout on the St Paulâ€™s five.
Predictably KCS set up for another maul, with their excellent number eight, Will Lockhart-Smith, barging over for the try. That gave the home side an eight nil lead with ten minutes left of the half, and it was a lead that they were to take into half time, despite the growing presence of the St Paulâ€™s 8,9,10 unit.
Reflecting on the game at the break it seemed as though KCSâ€™ fine game management would see them through this one, despite the scoreboard lead not being that large, however there was a sense that St Paulâ€™s had plenty to offer but had been unable to breach the strong KCS defence at the crucial moments.
The second half immediately looked like being a tight contest though, the physicality seemed to go up a notch, while KCSâ€™ kicking game just slipped a little as St Paulâ€™s picked up. It could have been the wind, though it was more of a swirler.
St Paulâ€™s momentum was slowly building however it took a firm hit as their big number four saw red for a dangerous tackle. It was his second such tackle and while the referee had tried his best to avid going to the pocket he was eventually left with no choice.
KCS took their chance brilliantly, setting up perfectly for Lockhart-Smith to bulldoze his way over for his second try of the game, crashing over under the posts in a manner that evoked memories of Scott Quinnell in 2001.
That gave KCS a 15-0 lead with just under twenty minutes to go and with a man extra it seemed that they would surely kick on.
However St Paulâ€™s showed admirable quality and determination, this is a side that has only lost once all season remember, and took this setback as a chance to prove themselves.
They did so admirable, first marching straight back from the kick off to land a penalty before spending the next ten minutes camped in the KCS 22.
Their forwards, and their hard running number eight in particular, rose to the challenge magnificently, seeming to relish the prospect of charging into this seemingly impregnable KCS defence.
Pressure like that almost always tells at any level, and it soon did as KCS lost their excellent second row lineout guru, Ollie Adams, to the bin for an infringement near the home try line.
It seemed though that KCS had avoided any potential danger as they cleared their lines, setting up a scrum in St Paulâ€™s territory. However, as our video of the final passages of play shows, St Paulâ€™s were not to be halted and with barley over a minute left to play they sent their flying right-winger searing down the right touchline to score.
With time ticking they banged over a drop goal conversion before launching one final attack in the hope of securing an unlikely win.
However having defended so well all afternoon KCS were not about to let this game be taken away from them and they soon nullified the threat before booting the ball out of play, sparking jubilant celebrations.
It was a fine, and deserved, victory for KCS but St Paulâ€™s certainly played their part it what was an excellent game to watch, demonstrating that these two teams are certainly among the best in the South East, perhaps further even than that.
Final Score: KCS Wimbledon 15-10 St Paulâ€™s