Kingston University men’s rugby team dealt out yet another thrashing, embarrassing Portsmouth’s fourth team 71-0 on the south coast on a bitterly cold Wednesday night in the South Eastern Conference Plate, a score so large the referee stopped the game ten minutes before the end.
He stopped the match in the 70th minute to prevent the scoreline becoming too demoralising for the Pompey players, and Cougars captain Chris Painter was delighted with his side’s performance.
“It’s the second time in a row we’ve put a lot of points on the opposition, which I think really shows our class,” Painter told The River after the game.
“The really important thing is we didn’t stop, we kept going and were relentless and kept scoring points right to the end, to the point where the ref had to stop it early.”
Having been beaten in the final of the tournament for the past two consecutive seasons, the Kingston team were eager to make a statement.
Returning from a back injury, Painter scored the first try of the game 15 minutes in by running the ball home after turning over a Portsmouth scrum just yards from the try line.
Nitesh Gurung cooly converted to give the visitors an early 7-0 lead.
Painter thought he was going to double his and the team’s tally just a minute later as a long pass from Gurung set the captain away down the wing, only for the pass to be judged to have gone forward by the referee.
But they didn’t have long to wait for the second try of the game — after another Portsmouth scrum was turned over, the dynamic Alex Leeder ran half the length of the pitch to win a penalty.
After more concerted pressure on the Pompey try line, the ball eventually came to prop George Denham who smashed his way through a flimsy defence to make it 12-0.
Gurung again converted to take the score to 14-0, and the Portsmouth team could see they were in for a very long evening.
There was only one team in the match. Sloppy kicking and weak scrums meant the home side were never able to get a foothold in the game, allowing Kingston to attack relentlessly.
Ten minutes later the Cougars had their third try, and probably the try of the match.
Leeder was again the catalyst, jinking his way through the attempted tackles of the Portsmouth team before running to within 15 yards of the try line.
He then offloaded brilliantly whilst being tackled to Jack Astley who in turn set up hooker Adam Nilsson to score between the posts to give the visitors a 19 point lead.
There was still time for two more KU tries before the half was over. First Nilsson went over for his second to make it 24-0 before Leeder grabbed a thoroughly deserved try of his own after good work from Astley, which Gurung duly converted.
The half time whistle blew with the scores already at an emphatic 31-0, with the gap only looking likely to increase.
Just a minute into the second period, it did increase. After a quickly taken penalty from Leeder, the ball was worked to centre Jerome Downey who dived over the line to make it 36-0.
The moral had been completely and utterly sucked from the Portsmouth players, as they trudged back to the halfway line after the try.
Kingston smelt blood, and on the 45th minute it was 43-0, after yet another weaving run from Leeder set up Alex Tarrant to score in the far corner.
Leeder, who had now taken over kicking duties, converted the try from a tricky angle.
Two more quick tries followed as John Barrons got off the mark on the 50th minute before Nilsson completed his hat-trick ten minutes later.
Leeder converted both tries to take the score to 57-0.
Minutes later it was 64-0 as Painter barged his way through the increasingly weakening Portsmouth defence to score his second of the match, which Leeder again converted.
Just like in boxing, the referee could see that real damage had been done and was ready to end the contest early. But there was still time for Dan Hawkins to land the knock-out blow — his converted try made it 71-0.
After Leeder’s kick the referee called time on the match, taking pity on the home side, with Kingston scoring a point per minute for the second match running.
The win means the Cougars will progress to the second round of the cup.
“Alex Leeder, our scrum half, played really well today,” Painter said.
“Even though it’s another side that weren’t great we managed to not concede which shows improvement on last week as well.
“We’re really excited for the rest of the cup and the league this year.”