By Liam Moakes Wednesday 16 January 2013 Updated: 23/01 11:49
KINGS NORTON lost a second successive Midlands Three West (South) fixture in very strange circumstances in Gloucestershire as they went down 23-0 to Cheltenham North on Saturday.
The visitors did produce a fairly disorganised display and faced a bitter wind when playing up the slope, but these factors were not the main reasons for their defeat, which came down to a bizarre period in the final minutes of the first half and six minutes of the second half.
The home side were 13 points to the good at half time through two unconverted tries and a penalty, but this did not explain much about the game in general.
After receiving the ball from the kick-off, Kings were adjudged offside and Cheltenham missed an early long range penalty chance.
The visitors then fell behind to a good try after six minutes as Ryan Morley pulled off a try-saving tackle but, as the home side pressed their advantage, their pressure paid off and Kings conceded this first try.
The Hopwood side came back hard and after 18 minutes of attacking play Rob McGhee's drive took him close. Chris Carlin took the ball on but was penalised for not rolling away in the tackle and the moment passed without score.
Cheltenham came back strongly and, despite conceding an unusually high penalty count, Kings' defence stood up to the constant pressure.
However, the home side eventually crossed for their second try after 32 minutes before moments later Carlin's excellent penalty attempt to close the gap flew narrowly wide.
Sam Woodward went on to replace Pete Crompton for the final minutes of the half and Kings kept up the pressure, but finally the home side kicked long and from the resulting maul they should have scored but the ball was knocked on and Kings were again penalised for not releasing.
Cheltenham won their lineout but failed to break down their visitors' defence until they were awarded another penalty - this time in front of the posts - which was easily converted to move the score to 13-0.
In the final seconds of the first half the referee yellow-carded prop Kris Fenn for verbal abuse and Kings had to defend until the half time whistle.
The second period began with Kings again penalised and they fell further behind to a sucker-punch try as the home scrum half ran around the back of the resultant scrum to score out wide.
Three minutes later Woodward received Kings' second yellow card for an innocuous wrestle at the back of a maul which was adjudged to be high, leaving Kings down to 13 men.
Matters worsened moments later when Jake Hayden-Wright broke off the back of a maul to put in a strong tackle on one of the home forwards, with contact and injury occurring just as he was passing the ball.
The referee stopped the game and Hayden-Wright was red-carded for a dangerous tackle. The game was suspended for over 40 minutes while the injured player was attended to and finally with the light fading the game was restarted, only to be delayed again four minutes later because it was noticed the ambulance was still affecting the playing area.
With Kings now down to 12 men and unable to cope with the mystifying reasons for their high penalty count, Cheltenham scored a further try before the referee called time after exactly 60 minutes of play had occurred.
The score will stand at 23-0 and fifth placed Kings were this week left to lick their wounds and consolidate their thoughts on the very high penalty they had conceded - well over 30 - ahead of tomorrow's visit to lowly Southam for a rearranged league game.
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