KENILWORTH RUGBY FOOTBALL CLUB
DROITWICH 17 KENILWORTH 19
Kenilworth anticipated that the visit to Worcestershire Club Droitwich would be their sternest test of the season so far and so it turned out to be with the Home side turning around a 19-5 deficit to only trail 19-17. The missed conversion at the death meant that Kenilworth survived to squeeze out a 4th successive win in Midlands 1 (West), writes Bruce Doe.
Whilst a heavy shower welcomed both sides on to the pitch, the weather was almost ideal for playing Rugby, albeit with a healthy wind occasionally gusting down the length of the pitch. It was in fact Droitwich who held that advantage as the game kicked off which aided their dominance of possession for most of the first 20 minutes of the game as they took the game deep into the Kenilworth half. However, Kenilworth again displayed their defensive strength by constantly driving ball carriers back in the tackle, pressurising them at the breakdown and forcing eventual Droitwich mistakes. Skipper Bobby Thompson triggered the eventual shift in field position by forcing a turnover and Kenilworth start to edge their way up the pitch.
Kenilworth had to work hard to make progress as the home sides defence proved equally as effective at closing Kenilworth down, leaving little room for the away side to make progress. On one such occasion, Kenilworth secured the ball at a line-out and drove the home side back some 15 metres before scrum half Gareth Renowden broke away infield only to be stopped by two Droitwich defenders and the game almost immediately returned to the Kenilworth 22.In what was shaping to be a good and competitive game of rugby between two well match sides, the game started to be played further up the pitch although Droitwich often made good use of the wind to force Kenilworth back into their 22. However, Kenilworth’s defence continued to hold strong. Buoyed by the increasing number of excursions into the Home side’s half, Kenilworth worked their way forward. On around the 25 minute mark, well provided ball by Kenilworth forwards reached Fly Half Will Davies who took advantage of the ‘front foot’ ball and manoeuvred himself beyond Droitwich’s defensive line before being hauled to the ground. Good recycled ball however, was moved efficiently to the left, through quick hands of Jake Dodd and Centre Ed Hannam who found fellow Centre Jack Scott with a well timed pass. With the subsequent space and time to step in field Scott touched down for an excellent team try. Fly half Davies was unable to add the extras, but Kenilworth led now by 5-0.
Not unexpectedly Droitwich bounced straight back and look all set to score until the final pass went astray. However, the home side continued to work hard and yet again put Kenilworth under considerable pressure in and around their 22. But it was Kenilworth’s defence that came out on top when Droitwich were penalised for holding on. From the resulting penalty and successful lineout, Kenilworth worked their way up to within 5 metres of the Home side line, with the back row of Andreson, Thompson and Hibbs particularly prominent.
As was only to be expected Droitwich looked to run the ball back at Kenilworth, seemingly releasing their left winger into space only for him to be pulled down by a superb ankle low tackle by Kenilworth right wing – Rhys Jones. Winning in fact a penalty as his opposite man tried to get to his feet. Kenilworth kicked to touch and from the successful line out drove the ball towards the Droitwich line. Just as the advancing maul was collapsed by the home side, Danish captain Mikkel Andreson drove towards the line to secure Kenilworth’s second try. Well converted by Will Davies, Kenilworth increased their lead to 12-0.
With only a couple of minutes to go before half time, Kenilworth were obviously keen to see the half out but Droitwich’s plan was anything but as to their credit again threw everything into attack, putting the away side under considerable pressure. Droitwich’s patience and persistence was to be rewarded when, following a careless penalty infringement by Kenilworth on their 22, they moved the ball to the right wing who was able to touch down in space, for his sides first try. A disappointing try, albeit unconverted, to concede. The score marked the end of the first half with Kenilworth leading 12-5.
The second half started in a very frantic and somewhat frenetic manner with play and possession back and forth. Eventually, after a lot action in the middle of the park, Droitwich seemed to be getting more control to their game and a scrum down in their favour, just 10 metres out seemed a likely threat. However, Kenilworth took the ball against the head and scrum half Renowden picked and took the ball up to the half way line before being hauled down, only for Droitwich to later regain possession and take play back into the Kenilworth half. So the pattern of the game was to continue with both sides taking turns at applying substantial pressure. It became apparent though that Kenilworth were ‘missing a trick’ by not taking greater advantage of the wind behind their backs to improve field position. Having regularly put ball to boot in the first half, little use was made of it in the second when it was needed.
Around 10 minutes into the second half Droitwich suffered a blow to their plans when their ‘combative’ number 8 was yellow carded for elbowing back row Andreson. In response, Kenilworth played their way deep in to Droitwich’s 22, with play involving both forwards and backs. In one such play the ball moved left swiftly through the hands of both forwards and backs before the ball was recycled right to find strong running prop forward Jake Dodd take an incisive line through Droitwich defence to touch down left of the posts, for a great team try. The try featured the hard working Dodd at both the start and finish. Converted by Davies, Kenilworth now held a seemingly comfortable 19-5 lead....or so it seemed.
Both sides continued to take the game to each other, with both sides more than willing to attack through both forwards and backs. Unfortunately the flow of the game was becoming more and more interrupted by the referee’s whistle, often for one or the other holding on. As the game moved to a close, Kenilworth put pressure on themselves by making silly mistakes by giving away silly penalties, trying to force passes or off loads and still not making full use of the increasing wind.
Droitwich continued to press and were to be rewarded with about 5 minutes left on the clock, their impressive fly half stepped both in and out beating two Kenilworth defenders to touch down near the posts for what seemed to be a consolation score. Converted, Kenilworth’s lead was reduced to 7 points to 19-12. With only a few minutes left on the clock, Droitwich threw everything at Kenilworth. Aided by a charitable scrum award, Droitwich attacked down the left and a ‘make or break’ overhead pass inside to unseen support saw them touch down for their third try. Much to Kenilworth’s relief the conversion was missed and the referee blew for time.
So Kenilworth achieved their fourth successive win but not without a really difficult game against a very hardworking, well organised and skilful Droitwich side.
Another difficult challenge awaits 3rd placed Kenilworth on Saturday when they meet 2nd placed Dudley Kingswinford at Glasshouse Lane. Kick off 3pm. Prior to this there is a Former Players Lunch.