National League 2 North
SEDGLEY PARK 111
Dudley Kingswinford: Ben Brown; Liam Marshall; Gareth Bown; Josh Brown; Donovan Smile; Kieran Pinches; Connah Jones; Ash Newall; Luke Greenwood; Richard Hickman; Ed Parry; Nick Murphy; Pete Knight; Sam Pedley; Danny Hawkins; Replacements: Josh Morrisey; Joel Barrett; James Jefferson; Ryan Smitheman; Josh Barnbrook.
As a game the scoreline says it all but does not account for the gutsy and spirited performance from this young Dudley Kingswinford side against a rampant Sedgley Park, who had a number of players in their ranks with experience from their Championship team of two years ago.
Until this season they too had suffered successive relegations, so understand the predicament that DK now find themselves in. This was DK's largest ever league defeat, conceding 17 tries, but scoring three good ones of their own.
To a man every player in the DK team gave their all, but the gulf between the two teams in terms of experience and physicality was too big to handle. Despite that with three tries to their credit DK almost secured a try bonus point as they were pressing the home line up until the final whistle.
No one epitomized their effort more than hooker Luke Greenwood, closely followed by the second row pairing of Nick Murphy and skipper Ed Parry. In the back row, talismanic joint head coach Pete Knight led by example and was ably supported by his colleagues Danny Hawkins and Sam Pedley.
The two debutant front row forwards Ash Newall and Richard (Sumo) Hickman both gave a good account of themselves despite the heavy scoreline.
In the backs young scrum half Connah Jones belied his years and gave another mature performance from someone so young, and was ably supported by fly half Kieran Picnhes before being replaced midway through the second half by Josh Barnbrook.
Centres Gareth Bown and another debutant Josh Brown had a difficult afternoon against Park's strong centre paining, but they never gave up in their efforts to stem the tide. Wingers Donovan Smile and Liam Marshall tried hard whenever they received the ball and were kept busy throughout making a number of good cover tackles. Eighteen years old full back Ben Brown looked to attack at every opportunity and exudes confidence and enthusiasm; a quality that is essential to help get the team through this very difficult time.
Replacement wing Ryan Smitheman snatched a good try with ten minutes left and served the catalyst for a final onslaught to get a bonus try in what would have been a remarkable feat in view of the scoreline.
In the early exchanges DK fared well and with ball in hand took the game to their opponents, but poor ball retention in contact cost them dearly as after ten minutes Park scored the first of a number of breakaway tries with increasing frequency. Despite the mounting scoreline DK continued to attack at every opportunity, and were rewarded with a Sam Pedley try wide out after some good forward play, leaving the half time score 38 - 5 to the home side.
Playing down the slope in the second half brought wave after wave of Park attacks, but somehow DK managed two tries of their own through hard working back row Danny Hawkins and replacement wing Ryan Smitheman who finished off following a majestic cross field kick from fly half Gareth Bown, gathered grace fully by skipper Ed Parry who fed Smitheman to run in unopposed.
So after writing one of the most difficult match reports I have ever been asked to write, I make this appeal to DK members and supporters. We all know that these are difficult times for the club, none more so than the players who pull on the navy and sky hooped shirt. The same players you cheered to promotion just two years ago. They are the ones who are working hard training two nights each week, come rain, fog, ice or cold, and they DESERVE your support.
So instead of going christmas shopping or watching the Heineken Cup on the telly this Saturday I urge you to get down to Heathbrook and give your support in person as the lads take on Chester – kick off 2pm.