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Hampton make a statement with victory over KCS

Hampton laid down a marker to the rest of the London & South East A section of the NatWest Cup yesterday, and indeed the rest of the country, as they defeated KCS Wimbledon 27-14.

That result sets them up for another huge fixture in a couple of weeks time against St Benedict’s, who beat St George’s Harpenden, of Owen Farrell fame, 57-0.

The pivotal moment for Hampton came about midway through the second half. At the time they were leading 17-7 but KCS had been coming back into the game.

KCS were awarded a potentially rewarding penalty but after some indecision of whether to take the points of to go for more it eventually petered out into nothing.

Within minutes Hampton were up at the other end of the pitch with full back Dan Barley thrillingly rounding a couple of defenders from a kick return before weaving his way under the posts to give George Tunnacliffe a simple conversion, leaving Hampton with a 24-7 lead and in control of the game. Had KCS managed to score instead though then the tale of the match could have been oh so different.

A Tunnacliffe penalty then extended the lead to 27-7 but KCS have not built up a reputation as one of the best sides in the area for nothing, and they showed why in a fabulous fifteen minutes of play.

Flanker Kulukundis drove his way over, and with the conversion added that left his side chasing two converted tries to win but with time ticking.

Theo Brader Tan at openside was magnificent in those closing stages, surprising the many spectators by actually managing to raise his level, despite the fact that he was already the best player on the park for KCS.

With the game being played out on Hampton’s new artificial surface the play had been hectic, with the first half in particular seeming to be played in a blur of quickly moving bodies.

There were four tries in that first half, with Hampton scoring three of them, including two absolutely magnificent efforts in succession.

First Jim Philipson streaked away down the left wing, showing outstanding pace to race over in the left hand corner. However that was small fry compared to the scene that was about to unfold.

Hampton elected to run the ball back from the kick off, with some neat running and offloading from the forwards before Jacob Goss, a second row, took a brilliant line to receive an offload before accelerating away from the defence and skipping around the fullback before galloping away like a gazelle to score underneath the posts.

It was a breathtaking moment, rarely do you see a second row forward score from inside their own half but it is even rarer to see it done with such pace and finesse, a fantastic try.

It was all part of a crazy few minutes in which KCS also registered their first try, through centre Mark Fuller who used all of his admirable strength and footwork to bring the scores back to just 12-7.

Hampton were to have the last laugh of the half though through a try from their prop in the far corner to give them a 17-7 half time lead.

It had been a breathless first half and it led to that excellent second half, where both sides at times showed their quality.

The Barley try midway through that second half really was the killer blow though and Hampton deserved their victory.

They will be among the favourites now for many to win the tournament, however the competitive nature of this London & South East A division means that in order to even reach the re draw, they will probably have to beat first St Benedict’s, then Whitgift and St Joseph’s College. Not an easy task.

On the evidence of this performance though, they are certainly capable.

Full Time: Hampton 27-14 KCS Wimbledon

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