KENILWORTH RUGBY FOOTBALL CLUB
Kenilworth 20 Lichfield 12
Saturday 29th February 2020
Second-placed Lichfield arrived at Glasshouse Lane looking to topple Kenilworth from top-spot in Midlands West 1, as they did in the initial fixture in November. The last encounter had seen the Myrtle Greens romp home with a 29 – 0 win, so Kenilworth knew that this would be both tough and significant in shaping the top of the table. Huge local support helped the home side recover from a nine-point deficit at half-time and ultimately triumph in a tremendous 20 - 12 victory, on a remarkably good pitch, writes Phil Morris.
As the sting in Storm Jorge’s tail whipped across the field, Lichfield kicked off, with the low, bright sunshine blinding Kenilworth’s receiver. Lichfield pressed with real intensity, securing an early scrum and from that opened the score-sheet after their impressive winger burst through the Kenilworth defence, with what felt like a matter of seconds on the clock. At five-nil down, Kenilworth fought back stringing together some good phases of play, keeping the ball in Lichfield’s half for an extended period. Great carries from Bobby Thompson, Tom Naismith and Garrett Bell kept the pressure on and with a scrum won, a pick and go looked sure to secure some points. Alas, a knock-on brought relief for the visitors. Lichfield came back and with 30mins played moved the ball quickly to the right out of their scrum, crossing for a 0 - 12 lead.
Both sides were fighting hard now, the gusting wind continued to complicate things and both the handling-error and penalty counts were creeping up steadily. Kenilworth’s lineout looked in need of adjustment with Lichfield profiting three times in the closing minutes of the half. Lichfield’s captain picked up a yellow card for a blatant offside and shortly after Jayde Cruickshank successfully slotted a penalty kick, bring the first half to a close. 3 - 12.
Kenilworth kicked-off the second half with their supporters hoping the wind assistance would help them in their not insignificant challenge to take control. Both teams launched their attacks, but the defensive work of both maintained the score line. Lichfield were retaining possession well and moving the ball across the field. Kenilworth responded with a carry from Jayde Cruickshank and a run from Gareth Renowden that so nearly saw winger Nyle Beckett over in the left-hand corner, but again pressure from the visitors’ defence snuffed out the scoring opportunity. Kenilworth secured a penalty with a dozen or so minutes on the clock but Jayde Cruickshank put it left of the posts. Then with just over 15 minutes played, Kenilworth’s pick-and-go from a lineout (secured after spoiling a Lichfield scrum) allowed Mikkel Andresen to bulldoze his way over. Jayde Cruickshank added the extras to bring the deficit down to just two points at 10 – 12. It felt like the tide was turning and the big home crowd were making themselves heard and within five minutes Kenilworth stole the ball, launched an attack and secured a lead-swapping penalty kick from Jayde Cruickshank’s boot and a slim 13 – 12 advantage. The home crowd erupted and filled Glasshouse Lane with noise.
The physicality of the game was still relentless, phases of attack from both sides looking to settle matters. With the whistle just five minutes away, young Sam Morris executed a fabulous tackle on his opposite wing. The resulting spilled ball was collected by Mikkel Andresen on his 22 and he then ran all the way to line, outpacing the Lichfield centre, for a touch down under the posts – setting up an easy conversion for Jayde Cruickshank. The home crowd went wild as the scoreboard flipped over to 20 – 12.
The dying minutes were every bit as intense. A second yellow for the visitors – this time their No.1 - for a high tackle on the re-start gave a short pause, and Kenilworth concentrated on looking after possession. A big Kenilworth defence was demanded and delivered as the final whistle blew.
Next up for Kenilworth is a crucial away trip to Ludlow on Sat 7th March.