Kirley's return proves to be decisive as Kingswood stage a late rally
IAN Kirley marked his return after two years out through injury by kicking the decisive points as Kingswood rallied from 22-3 down to defeat newly-promoted Chipping Sodbury 25-22 in Gloucester One.
The utility back came off the bench to land a conversion that tied the scores and was also on target with the match-winning penalty 12 minutes from time.
And Kirley was then able to celebrate with a couple of cut-price drinks thanks to a new initiative he has introduced since becoming chairman.
The 30-year-old said: "We've told the players that if they train twice a week then on a Saturday they'll get vouchers giving them a pound off their first two pints. I'd better go and get mine sorted out!
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"It's just a fun way to get people along to practice, and 12 of us managed to make both sessions this week."
Kirley was delighted with the character Kingswood showed to win this game and praised new coaches Redford Pennycook and Bryan Rennie, of Bristol, for their work off the field.
He added: "Red's been working very hard on our fitness, and Bryan wants us to run the ball from everywhere. The confidence is not quite there for that, but we're working on it."
Kingswood will have to start working at their line-out after losing at least ten balls on their own throw, while both sides will be urgently addressing discipline at the breakdown.
Sodbury had four men binned for misdemeanours at the tackle area, two almost simultaneously towards the end of the first half with two more following, again in quick succession, in the final stages.
Kingswood were themselves twice reduced to 14 men, collecting a yellow card in the first half for an illegal tackle and another close to the final whistle as the zero-tolerance approach to offending at the breakdown continued.
Sodbury hammered away at the line as the clock counted down, but Kingswood held firm for a victory which appeared unlikely in the extreme after falling 22-3 behind in the 30th minute. The visitors' muscular pack regularly punched holes in the defence for their backs to cut loose with centre Dan Bradley (2) and No 8 Jack Spooner crossing and Tom Febry adding two conversions and a penalty.
But Kingswood made their numerical advantage count with scores from winger Lewis Voisey and centre Paul Allen before the break, Ashley Honeywell on target with a conversion and a penalty.
Winger Adam Morris maintained the home side's momentum with a score converted by Kirley which tied the match. Further pressure produced several penalty chances for Kingswood, and Kirley eventually made no mistake with a 15-metre effort to nudge his side in front for the first time.
Sodbury captain Luke Smith said: "If we had kept 15 men on the pitch then we would have won."
In Gloucester Premier, centre Tom Price marked his Whitehall debut with a try in the 26-12 home defeat of Drybrook.
Skipper Dean Weaver and Jake Saunders also crossed with Whitehall's powerful pack securing a penalty try.
Centre Matt Comley's score was all Saracens had to show in a 49-5 reverse at Widden.
In Gloucester Two, Rob Wills' try and three penalties from skipper Dan Ferriday gave Aretians a 14-12 triumph at St Brendan's. And Ben Higham (2), Matt Ace and Simon Donovan crossed in Cotham Park's 28-7 home defeat of BAC.