KENILWORTH RUGBY FOOTBALL CLUB
After the previous week's well below par performance against Lichfield, Kenilworth secured a 25-17 victory against skilful Shropshire side Ludlow at Glasshouse Lane to move into second spot in Mids 1 West, writes Bruce Doe.
On a good and very firm playing surface, when many games in the region were postponed due to waterlogged pitches, Kenilworth started the game at breakneck speed, immediately taking the game, at pace, to Ludlow. After only 4 minutes on the clock and the ball having transferred quickly between both forwards and backs, the ball was moved wide left by fly half Callum Armstrong followed by a well timed pass by Connor Burnet saw hard working winger Ollie Burnam, take an inside line to touch down for the first home try out left. Making his first start for the club, Fly Half Callum Armstrong was unsuccessful with the conversion. Nevertheless, the impressive start was rewarded with a 5-0 lead.
Ludlow, looked to bounce straight back by moving the ball swiftly through their hands, successfully taking the game deep into the Kenilworth half. Having progressed to the home sides 22, Ludlow threatened Kenilworth’s try line. However a knock on halted their progress. From the subsequent scrum, Kenilworth took possession up field and made good initial ground when flanker Mikkel Andreson made progress up the left flank, followed by towering second row Tondi Mpambawashe who showed a real turn of speed to progress across the park, into Ludlow’s 22. His run halted, the ball was recycled and found its way to Number 8 Tom Naismith who drove over for Kenilworth’s second try. Converted this time by Armstrong, and with only 17 minutes gone, Kenilworth now led by 12 points with their two incursions into the Ludlow half.
It was clear from the outset however, that this was a hardworking and skilful Ludlow side. They displayed a ready willingness throughout the game to ‘have a go’, with their right winger and tall centre often making ground and looking to beat a man and releasing fellow players into the created space. The pressure brought its rewards when a high tackle by Kenilworth was penalised. Although the kick was missed, Ludlow came back strongly moving the ball skilfully through their hands. A second penalty at the scrum was kicked into the corner. Good Kenilworth defence saw the home side clear their lines. Eventually, continued Ludlow pressure resulted in a further penalty award to them, around the 22 and in line with the posts. A comfortable kick at goal saw them achieve their first points of the day to take the score to 12-3.
Kenilworth were by now, playing most of the game, under pressure and in their own half. Both Kenilworth wingers, Burnam and Beckett were prominent in defence, both having to chase back at speed and tackle well. With just a couple of minutes left of the first half and with Ludlow charging forward full back Garret Bell was Yellow carded for a ‘no arms’ tackle, albeit that the majority of the contact was on home winger Beckett. With one man down, Kenilworth safely saw the time out to go into half time 12-3 in the lead.
Kenilworth started the second half very much as they started the first with forwards Truslove, Burnett and Mpambawashe particularly to the fore carrying the ball hard at Ludlow. The early pressure resulted in a series of scrums near the Ludlow try line but all the early momentum came to nothing. However, the home side, back now with a full complement of 15, kept plugging away and eventually were awarded a penalty on the Ludlow 22. Having struggled to cross the away side try line for a third time, and despite considerable pressure and dominance at the scrum, Kenilworth took the sensible option of a kick to goal. Armstrong converting to take Kenilworth 12 points clear at 15-3 with approximately 25 minutes to go.
Knowing time was still on their side, Ludlow continued to run the ball at almost every opportunity. Whilst Kenilworth continued to try and ‘bash’ their way through in midfield, Ludlow looked always to run at the outside shoulder, often either taking themselves past defenders into space or creating space for others to benefit from. Such play took the away side into Kenilworth’s 22, taking them close to the home side try line. However, strong defence and a particularly strong Kenilworth scrum resulted in great ground gaining runs from Andreson, Naismith and again by Mpambawashe moving Kenilworth into Ludlow’s 22. Good recycled ball was moved left where centre Ed Hannam straightened up taking play almost to the try line. Further well re-cycled ball saw prop forward Dave Bromfield force his way over for Kenilworth’s third try. Well converted by replacement Fly Half Will Davies, Kenilworth now led by 22-3.
At this point flanker Nick Gerber was replaced by Ryka Shekavati, only for the switch to be reversed just a few minutes later due to head knock to Shekavati. Hard working hooker, Luke Truslove also left the field of play after an impressive shift to be replaced by Harry Abell.
Ludlow continued to attack from deep and went close again when a sweeping move saw the ball move out right into the arms of the impressive No14. His dart to the corner brought a tremendous try saving tackle by Ollie Burnam. Following a brief respite, and progress back into Ludlow’s half, the ball was repossessed by the away side who yet again spun the ball wide. Again it was the Ludlow right wing who, running from midfield, found space outside his opposing defender, running out towards the right flank before cutting back infield, evading at least two Kenilworth defenders to touch down under the posts. With the conversion achieved, Ludlow were down 22-10, but beginning to cause home players and supporters, increasingly anxious moments.
The anxiousness was to increase even further when Kenilworth, seeking to press forward, threw a long speculative pass to the right hand touch line, resulting in the Ludlow left wing gambling successfully by grabbing the ball in flight and sprinting over half the length of the pitch to touch down just inside the corner flag, despite the efforts of Mikkel Andresen to stop him. Superbly converted, Ludlow inched even closer now at 22-17.
To Kenilworth’s credit, they worked hard to take the game back into the Ludlow half and subsequent pressure saw Kenilworth awarded a penalty just outside of the 22. Kenilworth, correctly, opted to kick at goal. Replacement Fly Half Will Davies, confidently slotted the ball over to take the home side 8 points clear at 25-17.
Kenilworth successfully received and dealt with re-start and went looking for a fourth try and bonus point win. It looked odds on that they had achieved just that when they found themselves, deep in Ludlow’s 22 with a 2 on 1 and the line apparently begging. Unfortunately, what should have been a try scoring pass to wing Nyle Beckett, found itself slightly behind and low down, causing the winger to slow down dramatically. As a consequence, the full backs job was made so much easier as he tied up both the winger and the ball. With the chance gone, Kenilworth’s hopes of that all important bonus point try was gone. Only a few minutes later, the game ended 25-17 in Kenilworth’s favour.
Kenilworth did well to bounce back to winning ways after the particularly disappointing defeat of the previous week. Ludlow were a hard working and skilful side who will be disappointed to return home pointless. The Sheldon Bosley Knight Player(s) of the Match award went to hard working second rows Tondi Mpambawashe and Connor Burnet.
Next week, 23rd Nov, another difficult game awaits when Kenilworth visit old rivals Newbold on Avon for what will be, without doubt, a challenging and very competitive game. Kick off 2.15.