Rugby in the South West is always strong, and this year both Clifton College and Kingswood have been in fine form.
Clifton had beaten Pateâ€™s Grammar School and Kingâ€™s Taunton well, and followed that up with a tight win over Bryanston on Saturday, while Kingswood had hit fifty in each of their opening fixtures. So it was with great excitement that the crowds gathered at Clifton RFC on Tuesday night for the match between these two excellent sides.
More important than the game of rugby though was the reason for the game of rugby. The game was the Ryan Bresnahan Memorial Match. Ryan was a pupil at Clifton College but died suddenly and tragically from meningitis B in March 2010.
There is currently no vaccine for Meningitis B, and the annual fixture is played as part of their charity â€˜A Life for a Cureâ€™, set up to fund research into finding a vaccine. So far the charity has raised in excess of Â£300,000, details for how you can donate are at the foot of the page.
The rugby was the focus of this particular fundraiser though, and the hundreds, possibly thousands, of supporters were determined to make themselves heard as the two teams prepared for kick off.
It was predominantly a Clifton crowd, though Kingswood were hardly lacking for support, and those Clifton supporters were to be the first to have something to cheer about as their side took the lead midway through the first half through a Hayden Palmer try.
The try followed some impressive mauling from the pack, with palmer emerging fro beneath, the conversion from Freddie Owsley was enough to send the Clifton throng into raptures.
Little did they know that that was really to be the last great opportunity for jubilation that they would have.
The first half remained relatively even, but a moment of confusion in the Clifton midfield allowed Kingswood to take advantage and dot down before the ball went dead following a big hack through. It was a real body-blow for Clifton, and the conversion from Owen Waters made it even worse, levelling the scores at 7-7 as the referee immediately blew for half time.
It was clearly an emotional night for Clifton, and one that came with a lot of pressure too, and perhaps that was bubbling over a little too much at the start of the second half as a succession of penalties allowed Waters to put Kingswood in the lead, and then to extend it out to 13-7.
If Clifton were maybe trying just too hard, Kingswood were looking calm and composed, and that was demonstrated as Waters soon slotted over a drop goal. It was as calm as you like, and despite being worth just three points it felt like a big moment in the game.
Clifton were not going to lie down though, and they soon got themselves back on the scoresheet through an Owsley penalty.
Perhaps Clifton sniffed a chance, perhaps not, but unfortunately discipline was proving their undoing. It was unfortunate as the likes of Barber, Beck, and Costley had the look of men who could really inflict some damage given a little more possession.
As it was, Kingswood just kept calmly putting the ball into Clifton territory, with fly half Ollie Milnerâ€™s boot proving irresistible at times, such was the distance and accuracy he was getting.
With just over five minutes to go, the pressure told as Dominic Mackenzie profited from some neat Kingswood handling to go over in the corner. Waters put over a gem of a conversion and then Clifton put the restart straight out. With a few handbags beginning to fly too, the game felt close to done and dusted at 23-10.
It was not quite done though, however unfortunately for the â€˜homeâ€™ side it was Kingswood who were not done. Sending Parimal Shrestha â€“ who had looked incredibly lively throughout the second half â€“ over following a neat set piece move. Waters nailed the conversion on the final whistle to seal a 30-10 Kingswood victory, continuing their impressive start to the season.
Clifton had plenty to be encouraged by, and ultimately may feel that they just wanted it too much. It often happens in such games, certainly though, Clifton have the quality to go far this season.
Ultimately though, the rugby was truly unimportant. The cause, the money-raising, the story, and the memory of Ryan Bresnahan was all that mattered.
Full Time: Clifton College 10-30 Kingswood
To donate to â€˜A Life for a Cureâ€™ please go to www.ryanbresnahan.org
Photos of the game are available on our Facebook Page: www.facebook.com/FifteenRugby
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