KENILWORTH RUGBY FOOTBALL CLUB
Kenilworth drive on through the rain to beat hardworking Kidderminster and stay ahead of the rest, writes Bruce Doe.
Kenilworth overcame an extremely hardworking and combative Kidderminster Carolians at a very cold and wet Glasshouse Lane on Saturday to retain top spot in Midlands 1 (West). Having faced the same opposition three times last season the Home side knew only too well the level of fight, commitment and no shortage of skill that the Worcestershire side would bring with them. So it proved from the kick off. Kidderminster took the game immediately to Kenilworth, working extremely hard to both win and retain ball but to also get the ball as wide as was possible to stretch Kenilworth. They clearly felt they had strength to play on the flanks with their tall right winger proving to be a threat whenever he got the ball. The strategy was never more apparent when, following a brief early excursion by Kenilworth into the Kidderminster half, turn over ball was immediately crossed kicked into the arms of the right winger who made significant ground near to the home side 22 before his progress was halted by strong tackling and hard working Ollie Burman. A handful of phases later, Kenilworth transgressed at the breakdown leaving Kidderminster a straight forward penalty kick to goal. Surprisingly the kick was missed. Only for Kenilworth to give the away side another, even easier kick at goal a few minutes later. More surprisingly this kick, from a close, straight on position, was also missed.
Kenilworth, as has been the trait in many previous games, bit by bit edged Kidderminster backwards, with both strong defence and some attacking phases between forwards and backs. As to be expected, both sides at times spilled the wet slippery ball. Kenilworth were also by now starting to dominate the scrum, putting Kidderminster under considerable pressure on either put in.
With around 20 minutes gone, Kenilworth’s Hannam left the field nursing an impinged shoulder to be replaced by strong running Centre Charlie Stevens. Hannam was unfortunately closely followed by flanker Sam Harrison, with an ankle injury, who took no further part in the game, to be replaced by big lock forward Connor Burnett. Despite the two unplanned changes Kenilworth started to threaten. A penalty to the home side took them into the opposition 22. From the subsequent lineout, taken well and high by the impressive Nick Gerber, the ball moved swiftly to the left where winger Jack Scott stepped inside on a great line to touch down near to the posts for the first Kenilworth try. With the conversion kicked confidently by fly half Will Davies, Kenilworth led by 7-0.
There then followed an untidy period of play but nevertheless Kenilworth got themselves back to the Kidder line to force a scrum 5 yards out. Despite winning the ball and driving Kidder back to their line, the ball squirted out in the defending sides favour and Kenilworth found themselves all the way back on the half way line. Second row Burnett, who had a strong game, led the charge back into the away side half. Then followed a period when Kenilworth, despite still being a bit disjointed in their play and decision making, started to dominate play and territory. Not long after an attacking scrum, when Kenilworth were rather strangely penalised for standing up, even though it was the opposition front row who had stood up first, impressive lock Tondi Mpambawashe took a clean line out ball close on the 22. The quickly recycled ball was moved to the left where centre Stevens broke through the line but lost the greasy ball forward. Kenilworth were to be rewarded soon after though when following ball turned over by the Home side Fly Half Will Davies found space and darted through to touch down left of the posts. He then converted his own try to provide Kenilworth with a hard earned but deserved 12-0 lead at the break.
Five minutes into the second half, during which time Kenilworth pressed forward forcing a Penalty around 15 yards out, the option was taken for a scrum down. With the ball at the No8’s feet, a quick pick up and feed to first start and ex-colt scrum half Jack Rawlins followed by a well timed pass to Garret Bell, saw the full back touch down wide out on the left. Will Davies secured the extra two points to give Kenilworth a strong 19-0 lead.
The next ten minutes saw Kenilworth dominating play but the hardworking Kidderminister side besides having to busily defend, looked for any opportunity they could to attack, and attack quickly. Ball won by Kidder saw them again cross kick/pass to their strong running winger who caught the ball, made good ground along the right flank before passing inside for his support to cross Kenilworth’s line to score a good converted try and pegging the score back to 19-7.
Kenilworth responded by picking up the rhythm with Connor Burnet again working and carrying strongly around the pitch. His hard work was rewarded when he crossed the Kidder line for the home teams bonus point score. Unconverted, Kenilworth were now comfortable at 24-7.
The away side, as to be expected, continued to plug away, showing great character and commitment to get to within only a few yards of the Kenilworth try line only for fly half Davies to snaffle a loose ball, break clear, feed Jack Scott who was bundled into touch deep in the Kenilworth half. Then followed a period of middle of pitch play, and to be fair, general untidiness from both sides before the well rested Ed Hannam, who had returned to the fray a couple of minutes earlier, picked up another spilled ball and somehow manage to escape the away side defence to score near the posts. With Davies again kicking the conversion Kenilworth were to close the untidy game down 31-7 to the good.
With a break from league action this Saturday, Kenilworth travel to mid-table Lichfield on Saturday 9th November, kick off 2.15pm.