KENILWORTH RUGBY FOOTBALL CLUB
Kenilworth 29 Hereford 20
Saturday 1 February 2020
In their first game since the UK left the EU, and with the Six Nations competition underway, Kenilworth were focused on avenging a 10 – 17 defeat at Hereford in October. A strong, cold wind influenced proceedings but an impressive performance secured a satisfying 29 – 20 victory for the home side to keep them within touch of the leaders Dudley K, writes Phil Morris.
Kenilworth – missing captain Bobby Thompson due to a delayed flight home – kicked-off with the strong wind and low sun on their backs. The return kick from Hereford was knocked-on giving the visitors an early scrum. Five minutes in, Kenilworth were awarded a penalty for an off-side, which Jayde Cruickshank kicked (wind assisted) into the right hand upright. Just three minutes later and a second penalty kick – for a high tackle – struck the same post, this time from the halfway line! A scrum penalty awarded just moments later saw Cruickshank successfully slot the ball and a three-point advantage. 3 – 0.
Kenilworth maintained good pressure over the next period of play, with notable carries from Cruickshank, Burnet and Andresen. Hereford’s defence held firm though and the visitors launched their own waves of attack. A Kenilworth scrum on the halfway line – with 25 minutes on the clock – secured the ball for a superb step and run from full back Garret Bell. Tackled just shy of the line, Bell popped the ball up for Mikkel Andresen to cross over. Jayde’s conversion added the extras and a 10 - 0 lead. Hereford pressed hard, testing Kenilworth’s defence repeatedly. A Jack Scott interception of a long Hereford pass came close to a breakaway, but the final points of the half for the battling home side came from two penalty kicks from Jayde Cruickshank; the first a long-ranger after 35 minutes for not releasing, and the second just three minutes later for a deliberate knock-on resulting in a 16 – 0 lead. Further exchanges of possession in the final five minutes closed with a Hereford try under the posts in the last play of the half. 16 – 7 at the break.
Hereford kicked off the second half with the wind now in their favour, helping them apply early pressure. The visitors secured an early penalty kick on goal, closing the gap to 16 - 10. Ending the first and opening the second half with points appeared to lift the visitors’ spirits. Kenilworth defended well and then opened the gap by three points with a successful penalty kick from Cruickshank, into the strong wind. 19 – 10. Hereford’s discipline slipped a little, being sent back twice in quick succession for dissent after conceding penalties. A scrappy period of play followed with possession changing faster than the reporter’s hand could write. Hereford dug deep, went through the phases and with about 25 minutes of the half played, shipped the ball out to the left wing for a converted try. At 19 – 17 this now looked like it could go either way. Kenilworth responded, with a sustained attack of pick-and-go down the centre of the field. A Kenilworth scrum secured the ball for Mikkel Andresen to power over the whitewash again. Jayde successfully added two for a more comfortable 26 – 17 lead.
Hereford continued to press though, testing Kenilworth’s defence once more. A successful Hereford penalty kick some five minutes from time brought the score-line to 26 – 20 and the prospect of a single score deciding the game’s outcome. Both sides fought hard in the dying minutes of this physically demanding game. Man of the Match, Connor Burnet’s work-rate continued throughout with some important carries. A final Jayde Cruickshank penalty kick in the dying minutes secured a deserved 29 – 20 victory against a tough opposition.
Next week, Sat 8th Feb, there is an away game at Worcester Wanderers.