WESTERN COUNTIES (WEST) LEAGUE – PLAY OFF FINAL
NEWENT (Glos) 28 points KINGSBRIDGE 26
Agonising is probably the best way to describe Kingsbridge’s cruel loss deep into injury time at the end of their South West One play off Final at Newent in Gloucestershire on Saturday.
The Blue and Whites will return to the Western Counties (West) league again for next season but safe in the knowledge that they gave everything they possibly could in their final league outing of the season and can be extremely proud of their performance. Cheered on by huge traveling support from Devon, the Blue and Whites were probably second favorites going into this match and had to adjust quickly to the unusual sloping pitch and gusty wind following their three hour journey.
The hosts had the chance to open the scoring in the 5th minute but put their penalty attempt wide before Kingsbridge were reduced to 14 men as hooker James Westlake was yellow carded. The hosts then had a second penalty shot which went wide but Kingsbridge failed to clear the ball quickly enough and the hosts followed up to touch down and open the scoring with a try. The simple conversion gave them a 7-0 lead.
On 15 minutes Kingsbridge were reduced to 13 players as flanker Dan Barlow was shown yellow before the Blue and Whites began to recover their composure. Full back Tom put was in superb form with the boot as he punished the hosts lack of discipline on 20, 25 and 27 minutes with three successful penalty kicks to put Kingsbridge 7-9 ahead.
The hosts then retook the lead with their second try on 32 minutes through the centre channel with the conversion putting them 14-9 ahead. Another Putt penalty two minutes later reduced the deficit to 14-12 before the hosts pulled away again on 38 minutes with their third try courtesy of a catch and drive move from inside the Kingsbridge 22 to make it 19-12.
With the half time whistle approaching Kingsbridge set up camp in the Newent 22 and after a series of rucks and mauls the forwards stretched the home defence right and left before Kingsbridge centre Alex Allen forced his way over wide out for the Blue and Whites first try. The difficult conversion went wide to leave the score at 19-17 at the interval.
Five minutes into the second half Putt added his fifth penalty to see the visitors retake the lead at 19-20. Both defences were at their best during the second half as try scoring opportunities became rare. Both kickers were on top form and it appeared increasingly likely that they would hold the key to the final outcome of the match.
After 18 minutes of the half the hosts scored a long range penalty to edge back in front again at 22-20 before they then gave away a penalty immediately from the kick restart and Putt stepped up to send over his sixth penalty and put Kingsbridge back in front at 22-23.
Back came Newent again with another penalty with less than ten minutes left on the clock to make it 25-23 before Kingsbridge launched one final effort into the hosts half. With the forwards taking play towards the Newent 22, the ball came back and Putt stepped up to land a 40 yard drop goal to push the visitors back in front again at 25-26.
Somehow there was a significant amount of injury time on the clock and this gave Newent the chance to push play into the Kingsbridge 22. The hosts knocked on but gave their all at the resulting scrum. After the scrum collapsed the hosts were awarded the penalty and slotted it comfortably to go ahead again at 28-26.
There was just chance for Kingsbridge to kick off but no time left for them to claw back the two point deficit.
This weekend will see the Club bring the curtain down on the 2014-15 season with a huge ‘Party on the Pitch’ to celebrate their 125thAnniversary.
First up, on Saturday, will be the Devon Intermediate Cup Final on the Longfield Pitch at 3pm where the Blue and Whites will face Teignmouth for their third time this season.
In the evening the Club will hold its Annual Dinner and Presentations Evening in the Marquee on the High House pitch where nearly 300 people will celebrate another highly successful season for the Club.
On Sunday from 10.00 am the Club invites everyone to join them for a festival of rugby involving all of the club’s teams. The day will also feature the end of season Junior Presentations and Music from 2pm in the Marquee. The day will conclude with Music from The Wurzels from 8.00 pm. Entry is free to all.