KCS Old Boys 20-30 London Cornish
Report & Photos By Ben Gilby
London Cornish ended 2014 with a bonus point victory away at fourth placed KCS Old Boys, with the forwards doing the damage, scoring all of the tries. This result sees them well placed for a promotion challenge in the New Year.
The Exiles were in dominant form from the start, and won four penalties in the opening three minutes. From the last of these, a huge driving maul was simply too much for Kings to cope with, and Mark Osei-Tutu grounded the ball. With a fierce wind blowing, Spells conversion attempt failed.
From the re-start, Cornish earned another penalty, but Spells’ kick missed. KCS then gained their first spell of possession and used it well to be awarded two penalties in quick succession – the first of which was sent over from 30m, the other from in front of the posts. With 14 minutes gone, totally against the run of play, KCS Old Boys led 6-5.
Photo Luke Spells looks to break tackle
The Black & Golds kept up the momentum in the forwards, which also extended to the line-out. Ben Ievers stole Kings ball, and set up another huge drive, which the hosts stopped illegally, and the resulting penalty was kicked to touch, with the resulting line-out 5m from the KCS line, but the home side managed to clear. Shortly after, Cornish won another Kings line-out, and Carew-Gibbs initiated a great move with Dale and Spells before KCS cleared, but play was brought back for a penalty in front of the posts and Spells’ kick was successful, and Cornish regained the lead at 8-6.
The Exiles continued to turn the screw, and with KCS struggling to stem the immense power of the Cornish forwards, it was only a matter of time until the referee reached for his pocket, and the home hooker was yellow carded. If it was hard going for the hosts to stop Cornish up front with fifteen men, it proved nigh on impossible with fourteen. With ten minutes of the half to go, Rich Skinnard made a trademark sprint which left any number of Kings players trailing in his wake before the home side re-grouped, won the ball and cleared the danger. Cornish were awarded another penalty soon after, and a sensational long distance kick for touch saw the Black and Golds have line-out ball 5m from the home line. A series of pick and go followed before Ben Ievers attempt to ground the ball was held-up. Just two minutes later there was no stopping Cornish when another massive drive saw Mark Osei-Tutu over for his second of the afternoon, and fourth try in two games. Spells’ conversion attempt missed.
Photo – Matt Hakes on the charge vs KCS
As the half moved into stoppage time, Cornish won a scrum against the head and drove for the line once more. Scrum-half Rob Healey looked to have grounded the ball over the line for a third try, but the referee thought otherwise, and brought play back for a penalty for The Exiles in front of the posts which Spells kicked.
From the re-start, a cheeky kick through by Dave Theobald was gathered by Rich Skinnard who went on another huge run before KCS stole the ball. Shortly afterwards, Harry Somers stole Kings line-out ball which began yet another massive pick and drive. Healey passed to Ben Ievers who ran onto the ball at pace and was simply unstoppable for Cornish’s third try. Luke Spells added the conversion and the Black and Golds were 23-6 ahead at the break.
Photo – Will Carew-Gibbs with ball as Cornish Maul advances
The second half opened with a seemingly endless spell of re-set scrums, but Cornish regained the ascendancy when a brilliant bit of work from Ciaran Acford, who won turn-over ball and put in Mark Osei-Tutu. His ball found Acford once more. A further recycle played in Jamie McDonald who made an impressive number of metres. His final pass put in Harry Somers who dived over the line to secure the try scoring bonus point. Spells added the extras, and with half an hour to play, Cornish led 30-6.
At this point, the Exiles looked set to rack up a big win, however, KCS hit back well and a superb offloading game between their wingers and centres played in the superb Kings full-back Gareth Stoppani, who galloped through to score, and then add the extras. Cornish had lost the momentum, and found it nigh on impossible to regain it. Play degenerated as an increased amount of whistle broke the game up. The one further score of the game came right at the death and another display of excellent offloading resulted in Tom Smith scoring Kings’ second try of the afternoon. Stoppani’s successful conversion ensured he scored fifteen of KCS Old Boys’ twenty points.
Cornish now go into the Christmas break in third place, and have a Regional Quarter-Final in the RFU Intermediate Cup to look forward to at Crowborough on 3rd January before an absolutely massive home game against second placed Winchester a week later.