PJF win out in tough physical encounter
By Niel Kenny
Bonus point win puts PJFs destiny firmly in their hands.
The match that was expected to be tough physical encounter between two sides looking to consolidate a position at the top of the league. Kingston came to the Pightle on the back of a bruising defeat to league contenders Cranleigh and looking for revenge for the defeat they suffered at PJF's hands at Hook. The game didn't disappoint and the match started at a pace with PJF battering against the unyielding Kingston wall which used a three man blitz defence. PJF then hit a purple patch when all the off loads came off and it really stretched Kingston and on a couple of occasions it was only the last pass that let PJF down. The PJF scrummage and lineout was working well enabling PJF to control the game and on about 15 minutes after a series of rucks 5m out from the Kingston line Joe Dwyer picked the ball and dived landing on the line and PJF were on the scoreboard. Pierce Fernando adding the extra points. PJFs control of the game continued and Kingston although they occasionally enjoyed good field position could not exert any threatening pressure. Their quick wingers denied possession by the PJF pack whose driving play meant Kingston were not able to develop any momentum to their attacks. When they were able to get the ball down the line they were denied by the defence of PJF's midfield. On one rare visit to the PJF 22m PJF were adjudged to have strayed off side and Kingston opted to take the points and we had a 7 - 3 game. Meanwhile storming runs from PJF, particularly Luca Bellavia battered dents in the Kingston defence which held until PJF put the ball through hands for Brad Bosman to take the scoring pass to go over and run in under the posts. The first half wound down and the sides turned around 14-3 to the good.
Kingston were slowing the ball down at the tackle and PJF were wanting to move the ball more quickly from the breakdown. This contrast in styles had produced a couple of instances of handbags in the first half and a penalty count that favoured PJF who had played the more positive rugby.
The second half started with both sides competing hard for territory and possession. About 10 minutes of the half came one of those Swiss cheese moments when all the holes lined up. Kingston kicked through on the half way line the ball escaped the PJF player and the Kingston follow up kicked on through, PJF failed to drop on the bouncing ball and Kingston took advantage of one of the bounces from the bobbling ball to gather and go over under the posts. With the kick being slotted Kingston were back in the game and their heads were up. One of the big differences between the sides were the restarts, and this restart saw the accurate drop kick dropping just over the 10m line and Joe Dwyer gathering and PJF had possession in the Kingston half. Shortly afterwards PJF earnt a penalty which was put into the corner from the resulting line PJF were adjudged not straight and Kinston cleared to just outside their 22m. From the following passage of play PJF gained possession and took the ball down the blind side and PJF went over in the corner to move 9 points clear. The kick was missed. From the restart PJF gathered unchallenged and the poor clearance saw Kingston running the ball back. However PJFs defence held and they turned the ball over 5m from their line but the clearing kick into the wind was poor and again Kingston came back again PJF managed to regain possession but again the clearing kick into the wind ballooned into the air and from the resulting bounce fell neatly into the Kingston wingers arms who went over to once again narrow the gap. The conversion was very well kicked from out wide by the Kingston fly half and the gap was only 2 point with the score 19-17. This period spelt a real danger for PJF who had controlled the afternoon but had twice let Kingston back into the game with momentary errors. With about 10 minutes on the clock the restart saw PJF once again competing strongly and turning the ball over. The forwards raised their game at the last to re-affirm the dominance that had seen them steal Kingston lineout ball and take two strikes against the head at the scrums. From a line out 15m out from the line PJF took the ball and drove forward. From the resulting rucks a sniping run from Joe Dwyer saw him score the second of his brace of tries. Pierce Fernando rifled the conversion over for the extra points to put the icing on the bonus point cake. With that kick Kingston were denied a losers bonus point. The game had been a great contest, scrappy at times and bad tempered, because so much was at stake. Kingston had done well with their blitz defence and their ability to slow the ball down at the breakdown to stop PJF cutting loose but the PJF forwards had laid a solid foundation for the win. Everyone in the squad of 18 playing their part in a match that saw PJF create a 5 point cushion at the top of the league. But there are plenty of potential banana skins before the end of the season. The next league game at the Pightle will be against the dark horses Wellingtonians in two weeks time. PJF will have to be on the top of their game against a side that plays open expansive rugby. This game is carded as an away fixture but because Wellingtonians were unable to fulfil the fixture at the Pightle earlier in the season PJF gain home advantage. So we look forward to seeing you at the Pightle in two weeks time. Next week the 2s take on Battersea Ironsides in the cup at the Pightle. They would welcome your support particularly as there are signs that the 2s are beginning to turn their season around.