KENILWORTH RUGBY FOOTBALL CLUB
Kenilworth ended their Midlands 1 West winning run on Saturday against a big and hardworking Hereford side but secured a losing bonus point in the 17-10 defeat at Wyeside, writes Bruce Doe.
With league leaders Stoke-on-Trent surprisingly suffering a heavy defeat to next week’s visitors to Glasshouse Lane, Worcester Wanderers, the lone bonus point achieved took Kenilworth's 1st XV to the top of the league.
Going top was the only thing in reality that Kenilworth could raise a smile over. While there was no shortage of endeavour, Kenilworth’s game was mistake ridden from start to finish. Just as the big travelling contingent felt that maybe Kenilworth were getting back into the game, a ball would be dropped, a penalty given away or a line out missed.
From the long Hereford kick off, the ball was unusually spilled forward by winger Ollie Burman gifting the home side an attacking scrum around 10 metres out. Kenilworth defended the scrum and subsequent forward drives well, that is until they gave away a penalty for offside. Hereford, kicked to the corner, secured the line out and, three or four phases later, drove over for an early try just seven minutes in. With the conversion from the young and impressive fly half, Hereford took an early seven-point lead.
What followed was maybe the most ‘hopeful’ period of the game for Kenilworth. As happened often in the past, an early conceded try awoke Kenilworth and they immediately took the game forcefully back to Hereford, going through the phases and driving the home side deep to within their 22. Following a penalty for a high tackle Kenilworth looked to do the same as Hereford and kicked to the corner. A well won lineout ball by Tondi Mpambawashe was driven towards the home line. A subsequent and intentional collapse resulted in a Yellow Card to the Hereford back row. Kenilworth took the scrum option and drove well towards the Home try line. A couple of pick and go’s later, prop Dave Bromfield, assisted by skipper Bobby Thompson drove over for what we all hoped would be the first of our tries this afternoon. Converted, by Fly Half Will Davies, Kenilworth were back in it at 7 – 7.
This time from the kick off, Kenilworth caught and managed the ball well but were soon having to display their defensive prowess in the middle area of the park. As has become very much a hallmark of their game, Kenilworth defended strongly, eventually turning the ball over. Second row Connor Burnet drove forward making good ground before passing to scrum half Gareth Renowden. Spotting winger Ollie Burman wide in support, Renowden through an overhead pass to Burman who collected the ball well, low down on his toes to set off, potentially unhindered towards the Hereford line. Only to be pulled back by the trailing referee for a forward pass.
Spurred on, Kenilworth moved Hereford bit by bit, back down the pitch. A subsequent scrum, with a Hereford ‘put in’ was driven quickly backwards resulting in a home players hand in the scrum to try and prevent the ball disappearing in Kenilworth’s direction. Fly Half Will Davies, successfully kicked the ensuing penalty, edging Kenilworth into a 10-7 lead which they took into half time.
As the second half commenced in the rain, the mistakes and handling errors that had started in an unusually ‘flat’ first half for Kenilworth continued with a Hereford kick out of defence being spilled by Sam Morris. Next it was the usually reliable full back Garret Bell who dropped a home side kick ahead. The mistakes became a key feature of Kenilworth’s second half, with passes mishandled or misdirected and unnecessary penalties given away. It wasn’t for the want of trying; it was just that nothing seemed to pay off. To compound Kenilworth’s woe’s both Lock forward Burnett and flanker Ryka Sekhavati left the field with injuries to be replaced by Sharples and Abel respectively. Subsequent shuffling of players meant that centre Charlie Stevens moved into the pack.
With about 25 minutes to go, you got a sense that Hereford had their ‘dander up’. They were starting to play with real confidence, running hard at Kenilworth but also going wide often with their two centres and full back particularly prominent. That momentum took them close to the Kenilworth line and brought a high tackle award in their favour from the subsequent advantage the home side drove at the Kenilworth line and touched down left of the posts. With the conversion made, Hereford now led 14-10.
Again Kenilworth tried to take the game to Hereford, but it was just not happening. As Kenilworth continued to underperform Hereford were becoming more and more in control with some good, aggressive attacking rugby. For Kenilworth the errors continued with a penalty for ‘double movement’ on the line-out put in. Further penalties resulted in a chance for the home side to extend their lead, a successful kick at goal taking them to 17-10.
It was quite obvious that today was ‘just one of those days’ when the restart, much to the roars of delight from the big and noisy home crowd, failed to go 10 metres. Kenilworth did regain possession but only two phases later, again spilled the ball forward. A few minutes later the referee blew for full time ending a disappointing and somewhat ‘bland’ day for Kenilworth but a ‘triumphal’ day for Hereford who fully deserved their win.
It was simply not going to be today. All players tried really hard, but it was just not going to happen.
Somewhat bizarrely though, that hard earned bonus point took Kenilworth to top of the league! I’m sure we will see a much different Kenilworth on Saturday when they return to Glasshouse Lane to face Worcester Wanderers in what will undoubtedly be another challenging encounter in the higher division. Kick off next week is again at 3pm.