KENILWORTH RUGBY FOOTBALL CLUB
Kenilworth started the David Ellis era in fine style on Saturday with a 34-16 victory away to Old Laurentians, writes Sophie Freestone.
Inspired by a host of new players and a new head coach in the highly-experienced Ellis, Kenilworth scored four second half tries on their way to securing an impressive opening round victory.
With both sides keen to get their season off to a winning start, it was Old Laurentians that drew first blood in the opening stages. The hosts took the lead after eighteen minutes with a penalty through fly half Jonathan Bean.
Kenilworth responded immediately, however, with Bryn Grantham stepping up to score three points with the boot on his competitive debut for the club. Old Laurentians then appeared to get a handle on the match with two further penalties from Bean to extend their lead to six points as the half hour mark approached.
Kenilworth had other ideas, however, and with half time fast approaching, some great work from the back line allowed Sam Williams, also making his competitive debut, to dive over the line. The conversion from Grantham ensured Kenilworth went into the break with a slender one-point lead with the match delicately poised at 10-9.
That late first half score saw the momentum shift in the visitors favour and the second half was very much all-Kenilworth. Gareth Renowden, shifted to number 10 from his usual scrum half position, started Kenilworth's try-scoring spree with a 46th minute try on the right after a period of pressure inside the Old Laurentians 22. The conversion from Josh Emery, making his league debut, sailed through the uprights to give his side a 17-9 advantage.
As the second half went on, Kenilworth continued to threaten Old Laurentians' defence and they once again converted their field position into points with 60 minutes on the clock. Renowden showed his pace with a superb counter attack up the right wing with the supporting Emery on hand to go over for his side's third of the match. Emery's conversion dropped just short as his side went into the final quarter with a 22-9 lead.
The hosts responded immediately, however, to ensure it would be a tense finish at Fenley Fields. Having made their way into the Kenilworth 22, Old Laurentians made the most of an overlap on the right to go over and bring the score back to 22-14. The successful conversion added the extras to reduce the deficit by a further two points.
Just moments later, with the match entering the final 15 minutes, Kenilworth cancelled out the hosts' second try after an excellent break from winger Ollie Burman on the left touchline. That took his side deep into the Old Laurentians 22 before the ball made its way to Renowden who stretched over the line for his second of the match, securing the bonus point in the process, to take his side into a 27-16 lead.
With just over 10 minutes to play, the visitors were now in a commanding position and added to their try tally as the 70th minute approached. Flanker-turned-hooker Abell then showed his pace in attack by breaking from inside his own half to race clear and touch down in the right corner. The touchline conversion was successful to give Kenilworth a 34-16 lead, a score line that remained until the final whistle was blown.
Next up for Kenilworth is the first home league game of the season, when Rugby St Andrews travel to Glasshouse Lane on Saturday. Kick off is at 3pm.