Match Report
Berkhamsted School 1st XV vs  King's College School (KCS), Wimbledon
On: Saturday, 27 Sep 2014
Venue: at Home

To say that we were ‘decimated’ by injury, going into this game, is an understatement: more than a quarter of the side were missing, owing to the tighter RFU regulations on concussion. Add to that the facts that we had not beaten KCS in three previous attempts and were still living in the shadow of last year’s 50 pt humiliation, and the scale of the task facing the boys was considerable. Our execution of try-scoring opportunities in last week’s win over UCS was well below par, and we knew that chances would be few and far between in this game: if we were to have any chance, we would have to defend well and take our chances. And so it proved.

Within the first couple of minutes, a series of full-blooded drives at the opposition defence led to the ball being spun left and Casey O’Gorman streaking away to the line on the overlap. However, to our great frustration, we were pulled back for a forward pass. This was just the sort of opportunity we could not afford to waste. A minute later we found ourselves 0-3 down as a result of indiscipline at the breakdown, although within a couple of minutes a series of Berkhamsted attacks induced a similar error from KCS, and Ollie Green brought the scores level. Thereafter both defences were very much on top, although both sides clearly felt that there were opportunities out wide and, despite a generally attritional battle by both sets of forwards, there were occasional moments of enterprise on both left wings, one by KCS resulting in a try-saving tackle by full-back Casey O’Gorman.

10 minutes before half-time KCS broke the deadlock. From a driven line-out, they went through 3 or 4 phases before a dog-leg in our defence created room for an outside break and an unconverted try on the right (3-8). Just on half-time KCS were penalised in the tackle and some back-chat gave us another 10m, but the ensuing kick drifted agonisingly wide of the left post.

At half-time there was all to play for, even though the slope was against us in the second half. In the first five minutes, another Ollie Green penalty was pulled wide. The next score was going to be crucial. We certainly began to look the stronger team. Throughout the game our scrum had the edge and put KCS’ half-backs under a lot of pressure. We were beginning to have the better of the gain-line and much of the first 20 mins of the half was played in KCS territory. After 15 mins Berkhamsted put several phases together and stretched KCS wide on their right. When the ball came back inside George Dunn forced his way over for a try converted by Ollie Green. With 15 mins to go the continued pressure was rewarded with a penalty in front of the posts. At 13-8 it was clear KCS would need a try to win. They came back strongly in the last 10 mins and the game became ferociously physical. In the last few minutes both George Dunn and Tom Daffern found themselves yellow-carded and the pressure on our line was scarcely tolerable. Had KCS played with their heads up and used the man in space, they might even have snatched victory at the death, but a penalty to Berkhamsted on our own line was thumped triumphantly into touch by Ollie Green to win the closest of victories. In the event, much depended on an earlier controversial but brave decision by the referee to deny KCS a try, when they failed to ground the ball over the try-line, after a chip through and an outrageous bounce left our defence at sixes and sevens. It was that close. To their credit, KCS accepted the decision with good grace.