IN FRONT of a bumper crowd, Kingsbridge coolly and clinically put away Eastbourne 66-0 to reach the final of the Papa Johns Cup. Kings proved too strong on a sun-drenched afternoon for the visitors, who must be praised for enduring a six-hour coach journey to play and then return empty-handed.

Kingsbridge march on and will play Twickenham on Saturday (May 11) in the final which unfortunately will not be held at Twickenham Stadium.

John Merrin was at the fore of the action, scoring a hat-trick, whilst James Palmer also caused havoc amongst the Eastbourne defence.

Scrum-half-on-the-day Joe Banfield scored the game's first try within five minutes, Ben Newman then nailing the conversion and setting a precedent for the afternoon ahead. The number 10 came close to adding another five points to the cause, Stu Winzer being in the right place to get them over the top. Quickfire tries from Tom Winzer and Toby Baldry gave the hosts a commanding lead, with no signs of letting up.

Baldry was back on the scoresheet soon after as he chased down his own kick to score the final try of the half, Newman doing his job with the tee once again to leave the score 33-0.

The second half started how the first one ended, with Kings exerting pressure on an exasperated backline. Stu Winzer grabbed a second for the game, which more than makes up for his mistaken absence from last week’s scoresheet.

Kings, although not dominating the territory, were always in control, allowing for the precautionary substitution of Henry Rich. His replacement was fan favourite Mike Powell, who came out of retirement to give cover in the front row with Joe Thompson and Steve Shute unavailable.  Some slick hands and great interplay saw Merrin over for a second of his own in what was already, a done and dusted affair.

Newman kicking as well as he ever has took Kings close to the line, a clever lineout move allowing hooker Jake Vincent to finish it off. Yet another Newman conversion took Kings past the 50-point mark, and the scoring wasn’t finished there.

Eastbourne’s defence were being run ragged by Palmer, Vincent and Tom Winzer to name a few, Merrin being the primary benefactor as he powered over to complete his hat-trick. The game finished with a sombre tone as Lewis Horne picked up a serious injury in the process of making his way beyond the try-line. Newman rounded off the emphatic victory with an impressive kick from the touchline, making it 66 unanswered points.

What a final home game of the season this was for Kingsbridge; enormous credit going the way of Captain Freddie Buckle, Coach Dave Stevens and Manager Kev Baldry to name a few.