A huge shift in defence brought Combe a bonus point victory on their first ever visit to newly promoted KCS. The homeside had won promotion in an unbeaten season with every game delivering a try bonus point so the Goddington Dene side knew they had to be on their defensive mettle.
Any early season Combe nerves were soon put to rest firstly through the boot of Matt Harrison who slotted a couple of penalties in the first six or so minutes but also by some robust tackling led by openside Sean Beckett which rocked the opposition back on their heels. KCS looked to run the ball at most opportunities and any kicking plans they had needed to be put on ice when their regular standoff limped off with only 10 minutes gone.
WPRFC added further woe to the homeside by scoring their first try on 12 minutes. A cut out pass from Harrison made space for winger Rendford Bennett who, despite a casual juggle with the ball, eased over the line to extend the lead to 0-11. KCS were dominating possession with their number 5 being among their chief ball carriers supported by good running from their centres. A malfunctioning lineout and a retreating scrum prevented them turning this into points. Combe's defence also made a massive contribution and, although KCS had made it into the 22, a looped pass was picked off by Harrison who weaved his way the length of the pitch for a try which he converted to make the score 0-18 with 26 minutes gone.
KCS continued to press for the rest of the half but the WPRFC defence denied them any breathing space. Half time KCS 0-18 Westcombe Park RFC
As in the first half an early Harrison penalty following a KCS scrum infringement immediately put Combe on the front foot. Now trailing by 21 points KCS threw everything at Combe but the defence held firm with all players working hard for each other to keep the home side at bay with the Simmons brothers stalwart in the tight zones and Harry Sansbury making a brave clearance with little space for error.
With 65 minutes gone Combe relieved the pressure with a Bennett run which was halted illegally. With a dominant pack the visitors elected for the scrum which proved to be the right decision. With KCS going back at a rate of knots Combe made full use of the space, the ball fizzing out to Sam Atiola who powered over for Combe's third try to extend the lead to 26 points.
WPRFC were now on the hunt for the bonus point but it was the homeside that continued to threaten only to be continually thwarted by a Combe defence that just would not buckle. The fourth try did come with three minutes remaining. The Combe pack turned over the opponents scrum and Dom Lespierre showed style to shimmy through a gap to touch down.
An excellent start to the season for Westcombe Park with great commitment and team spirit for all to see. The consensus among the 30 strong Combe travelling support is that KCS, especially through their cohesive back play, will surprise quite a few teams in the league. Next week Combe are at home to Dartfordians looking to build on this fine start.
Match Report: John Vallely