When KCS Old Boys came to Cobham in December last year the final result was Cobham 30-KCS 28 and a feature of that game was the second half comeback from the visitors. Everyone who watched that game remembers it as being very exciting as both sides play their rugby with the same expansive running style.
On the day England were assured of the Six Nations trophy and as it transpired Grand Slam honours Cobham were looking to ensure their own title objectives were not blown off course by a replay of how that match played out but this time KCS Old Boys achieving a last minute win.
Cobham Director of Rugby Steve Pope was able to field a strong team, incorporating some significant experience on the bench and as events would unfold that would prove to be crucial.
Playing into a cold wind that would increase in its intensity in the second half Cobham kicked off and KCS showed their sense of purpose with some hard tackling and it was a feature of most of the game that as KCS raised their game so Cobham had to demonstrate why they were the league leaders. James Clements, coming in on the wing, provided the first of many breaks he would make all afternoon and supported by Dave Baker enough ground was made that when an infringement was incurred by KCS it was in range for Ollie Weir to put the first points on the board 0-3.
Stung by that score KCS responded with a period of pressure that saw their backline explode and put Cobham under intense scrutiny which required sustained defence. Relief came as a loose KCS pass was intercepted by fly half Ollie Weir who ran from the Cobham 22 and was within sight of the line before slipping the ball to Max McDonald, who was rewarded for supporting him all the way, for a try wide out 0-8. Weir composed himself for the conversion but was off target.
Their second try came from a quickly taken penalty by Skipper Robbie Kennard who released centre Matt Goddard and enabled hooker Joe Davis to score 0-13. Weir hit the post.
Whilst Cobham struggled to secure line out ball, especially when they lost their lock Joe Goddard to a shoulder injury, they were strong in the scrum all afternoon and it was that feature of their game which was to ultimately secure them the final victory. Goddard coming off required a number of changes in the pack, Dave Baker moving to lock Josh Brown to the back row and substitute prop Andy Alexander coming on to make his 95th appearance for Cobham.
Further pressure from Cobham provided back row Ed Knight with his opportunity to pounce for a score 0-18 and skilful passing and soft hands in the backline provided Dave Baker with possession which he converted into a very well taken try under the posts 0-23 Weir securing the kick 0-25.
That scoreline suggested KCS were not proving to be as competitive as on the previous occasion they met but what happened next generated genuine excitement from the home supporters and not a little concern from the visitors.
You cannot of course have a game of three ‘halves’ but if you could this is what it might look like as the KCS back line finished off what they had promised all afternoon and centre Tom Dugarin scored in the corner to provide some hope 5-25. Weir clawed back a penalty just before half time 5-28.
It would have been interesting to have heard what was said in the KCS dressing room at half time but whatever it was provided Cobham with possibly the most challenging twenty minutes of their whole season. KCS Old Boys sponsors are ‘Hyperperformace’ and they lived up to their name as they scored 18 points in as many minutes to bring them within touching distance. First wing Luke Minors showed excellent pace to score in the corner 10-28 then centre Tom Dugarin scored his second 15-28.
When a clever, but possibly predictable, cross kick from a penalty provided Luke Minors with his second try 20-28 swiftly followed up by an easily converted penalty 23-28. Cobham were reeling and were faced with their very own 'Groundhog Day'* ( see below)
When centre Matt Goddard was injured Cobham had been required to bring on their second substitute, Arran Cowell for his 145th cap and all his experience was required for Skipper Robbie Kennard as he looked to calm the storm that had erupted.
With the Cobham forwards having been dominant all afternoon that is where the third ‘half’ of this pulsating game was to be played out with rolling mauls followed by recurring strong scrummaging enabling number 8 Doug Rodman to score 23-33. Weir converted 23-35 and with the culpable relief resulting from that score Cobham re found their confidence and James Clements broke through the KCS defence to set up Dave Baker for his second score 23-40.
At the conclusion of the game Director of Rugby Steve Pope said
''The boys ground out a hard fought win against a strong and very competitive KCS side. Credit to them we had to fight for every point and it didn't feel like a 40 point game at the final whistle.We scored some good tries and in patches of the first half played open and expansive as we like too.
I have to praise all of the Cobham players for there total commitment and at times sheer bloody mindedness to get the job done. I can name a number of different individuals every week - for individual great performances, which again is a credit to the whole group, but it is collectively that they impress me the most. Today's game could have easily got away from us at 28 -23 but all 18 players made it happen and kept on task.
We didn't train particularly well in the week and not being able to get everyone to training this week showed in our general play at times and the injuries early during the game obviously didn't help.
Our scrum was strong again today and when we play from a strong set piece it gives our game a nice balance,so will need to work on those areas this week.We have used well over 50 players in the both the senior teams this season as opposition sides continue to raise their game against us week by week All of the players have responded and we look forward to the remaining league fixtures as the season builds to an exciting climax.
Here's hoping we get everyone fit and available for one or two games this season !.....
6. Dave Baker
9.Robbie Kennard ( Captain)
14. Max McDonald
15. Tom Farrelly
16. Andy Alexander
18. Dave Flower
Tries :McDonald,Davis,Knight,Rodman,Baker (2)
Conversions : Weir (2)
Penalties :Weir (2)
*(A situation in which a series of unwelcome events appear to be recurring in exactly the same way)
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