KENILWORTH RUGBY FOOTBALL CLUB
With eight changes to the squad, Kenilworth needed to work hard in summer-like conditions to secure their third victory of the season against their tough Shropshire opponents Whitchurch, coming out on top by 36-14 at Glasshouse Lane, writes Phil Morris.
Whitchurch got proceedings underway and showed their intent from the off and their early pressure was rewarded with a converted try in the opening five minutes in the right corner, after several phases of good attacking rugby. The successful conversion gave Whitchurch the full seven points for an early lead.
The hosts responded well however, launching a sustained attack and winning a penalty kick from a high tackle. Ed Hannam’s boot was on target to cut he gap to four points.
Both sides continued to press, trading possession as the half wore on. Kenilworth then won another penalty kick on goal but Hannam’s aim was slightly off before the visitors secured the lion's share of possession for the next period of time.
Then, with 25 minutes on the clock, Kenilworth formed a maul from a line out and drove a short distance, allowing centre Ed Hannam to sprint over between the posts for seven points to nudge his side into a 10-7 lead.
Shortly after, from another successful Kenilworth line out and a well-directed grubber kick, Hannam was close to the try line again only to see a defender deliberately throw the ball out of play resulting in Whitchurch going down to 14 men after a yellow card was shown.
The first scrum of the game eventually came after 35 minutes, from which Kenilworth secured a penalty. Another great line out followed and the subsequent driving maul delivered five more points, as second row Connor Burnet grounded it to give Kenilworth a 15 – 7 half-time advantage.
The start of the second half saw Kenilworth play with real intensity but a number of handling errors between them butchered two potentially early scores. Whitchurch responded but it was the hosts that looked the more likely to profit and sure enough a quickly taken penalty presented Gareth Renowden with Kenilworth’s third try. Hannam's successful conversion extend Kenilworth's lead to 22 – 7.
As the half continued, both sides continued to press and test each other’s defences but it was Kenilworth who added to their tally. With 70 minutes played, Renowden seized an interception, accelerated hard, stepped a defender and crossed the whitewash for the bonus point try and his second of the afternoon. Hannam again added the extras.
Despite the 22-point deficit, Whitchurch kept pushing and kicked the ball over Kenilworth’s try line, but a defender grounded it to prevent a further score from the visitors. However were not kept out for long with the resulting 5m scrum and a poor Kenilworth clearance setting Whitchurch up for their second converted try to take the score to 29 – 14 in the closing stages.
The final minutes of the game witnessed attacks from both teams, with the final difference coming from a great Kenilworth turnover. Renowden capitalised and shipped the ball out to winger Nyle Beckett who passed to centre Jack Scott for the final try of the afternoon. The extras from Hannam gave Kenilworth a sound 36 – 14 to make it three from three this season to remain second in the league, level on points with table toppers Dudley Kingswinford.
Next week, Kenilworth travel to eighth-placed Droitwich. KO is at 3pm.