KCS Wimbledon broke St Benedict’s hearts yesterday in their fourth round NatWest Cup tie in front of the RFU cameras, as a late try saw them win 8-7.
The London & South East A game was the latest in the live ‘Trail to Twickenham’ series of games, which is following this section of the draw right through the NatWest Cup.
Winning in front of the cameras means that KCS’ next game in the Cup will also be filmed. That will be against Whitgift, the 2010 and 2011 winners, who won 24-19 away at Hurstpierpoint College.
Victory for KCS came despite some key players missing, including the outstanding and influential full back and goalkicker, Jake Hennessy.
That meant a switch to fullback for Zak Arney, who also took over the kicking duties, and came away having had a fine game and scored all of KCS’ points.
The first of those points was a penalty after seventeen minutes, coming just a minute after a sighter had gone slightly awry. It gave KCS a deserved lead, they had dominated both territory and possession in the opening quarter, and only stout St Benedict’s had kept them at bay.
Following that opening quarter though, St Benedict’s began to come back into the game, and for the remainder of the half perhaps had the edge, with number 8 and captain, De Berg, and second row Ehizode-Edevbalo carrying particularly well.
They were helped by some ill-disciplined KCS defence at times, with the away side giving away to many penalties at what was a fiercely contested breakdown, their own number 8 Finn Medd was having a storming game in that regard.
Despite some good play though, neither side could break through again before the break, and KCS took that slender 3-0 lead into half time.
Both sides probably spoke about discipline at the break, but after 6 minutes of the half, following strong St Benedict’s pressure, KCS found themselves on the wrong side of the referee, and tighthead prop Sandwell found himself in the bin.
On the 5 metre line, St Benedict’s scrum half Rice took advantage of the temporary confusion to take a quick tap to the giant Ehizode-Edevbale, who crashed of the line for the first try of the game.
Rice converted the try to give his team a four point advantage at 7-3, and in such a tight game, that lead felt increasingly decisive.
Despite the yellow card though, KCS were performing well, playing the majority of the period in the St Benedict’s half, and when St Benedict’s were issued with a yellow of their own, to substitute Michael, KCS definitely looked the side on top.
They almost proved the point with a neat break from fly half Sharp, but he was bravely held up over the line in what had been KCS first genuine threat on the St Benedict’s line.
A key moment in the game came jut shy of the hour mark as St Benedict’s saw yellow for a second time in the game. It looked an incredibly tough call as outside centre Hanley was binned for taking the player beyond ninety in the tackle.
You had to feel for him, it was an outstanding tackle, truth be told. Flying out of the line he caught the KCS man at full pace and sent him flying backwards. There was no leg lift, no tip, just the sheer power and momentum sent the KCS man backwards, horizontally.
Nevertheless, the decision was made, and the home side had some serious defending to do against a KCS side with momentum and areal determination to get themselves over the line for the win.
Much of the remaining ten minutes was spent in St Benedict’s territory, but as the clock neared 70 it looked like the home side might escape.
With a scrum in their own 22, they looked to captain De Berg to break clear, but he was held up brilliantly in a maul by a determined KCS defence.
Winning the resulting scrum, KCS then set about producing one of the most controlled and calm few minutes of play that you will see in schools rugby.
To move from outside the St Benedict’s 22 to inside it, they put together five or six phases of play, before an infringement allowed them a scrum just inside the 22.
Off the base of the scrum, number 8 Finn Meed made the key move of the game, surging infield and up to the St Benedict’s line.
With the clock now in the red, KCS simply picked and drived over and over again for what felt like at least 25 phases. There were no desperate lunges, no risky wriggles for extra inches, just control, and calm progress.
Such defence is energy sapping, and as soon as KCS spotted that the defence was just tied in a bit too much, Sharpe had the ball away at scrum half in a flash and into Arney’s hands, who wriggled over for the most dramatic and brilliant of scores, if not for it’s pleasure on the eye, then for it’s sheer teamwork and patience.
The conversion went wide, but it mattered not, KCS had secured a quite stunning 8-7 victory.
It was heartbreaking for St Benedict’s to lose in such fashion, particularly given such stoic defence, but for KCS it was ecstasy and jubilation as they secured their fifth round place.
They will be a tough match for Whitgift too, particularly if their injured players return. For now though, we must revel in what was a truly extraordinary finish to a game of rugby.
Full Time: St Benedict’s 7-8 KCS Wimbledon
|NatWest Cup Round 4 – London & South East A – Teams & Scorers|
|St Benedict’s||Pos||KCS Wimbledon|
|F. Osuntoki||1||O. Robertson|
|T. Batt||2||D. Esejomo|
|P. Dixon||3||W. Sandwell|
|E. Ehizode-Edevbalo (1T)||4||M. Geldenhuys|
|S. Tsang||5||J. Smith|
|L. Morris||6||S. Anderson|
|M. Delargy||7||C. White|
|B. deBerg (c)||8||Finn Medd|
|B. Rice (1C)||9||J. Sharpe (c)|
|W. Taylor||10||S. Sharpe|
|R. Boyle||11||G. Tracey|
|N. Lavery||12||D. Tyson|
|H. Hanley||13||O. Umney|
|J. Tolan||14||J. Dhillon|
|B. Chippendale||15||Z. Arney (1P,1T)|
|M. Arnett||16||D. Akhmetkhanov|
|G. Johnson||17||O. Miles|
|O. Tugman||18||O. Little|
|M. Casali||19||J. Hagger|
|D. Michael||20||O. Lim|
|F. Greenwood||21||J. O’Sullivan|
|T. Morris||22||F. Freeman|