KENILWORTH RUGBY FOOTBALL CLUB
Kenilworth moved closer to the half way point of the season with a hard fought 20-12 victory away to third-placed Nuneaton Old Edwardians on Saturday to remain in top spot, writes Bruce Doe.
Straight from the kick off, the confident home side put Kenilworth under severe pressure with their big pack driving hard at the visitors. After five minutes of constant pressure, repelled by a strong Kenilworth defence, NOEs were awarded a penalty for a collapsed maul. The penalty was kicked to the corner and the subsequent catch and drive by the hosts towards the Kenilworth try line was halted just short of the line. Bit by bit, Kenilworth’s defence moved NOEs back down the pitch, eventually turning the ball over and for the first time in the game finding themselves in the opposition half.
From a ‘not straight’ Kenilworth line out, scrum ball won by NOEs was charged down by scrum half Gareth Renownden, who gathered and immediately kicked ahead to 10 yards out from the hosts’ line. From a Kenilworth put in at the scrum, quick ball back to number eight Bobby Thompson was moved swiftly right through the hands for Josh O’Brien to touch down unhindered for Kenilworth’s first try. With the conversion missed at around 11 minutes into the game, Kenilworth led 5-0.
As to be expected NOEs came straight back and forcefully took the game to Kenilworth. However, Kenilworth were equally forceful in defence, tackling and driving back everything in red and white. Despite their defensive efforts and an Ed Hannam turnover at the breakdown, the hosts worked their way to inside the Kenilworth 22 and ball was moved left. This was followed by a good straight line run which saw the NOEs centre touch down under the posts. With the try converted, Kenilworth found themselves 5-7 down.
There’s a growing confidence with this Kenilworth side though and it was their turn to put pressure on the opposition and they did just that, spending the remainder of the first half camped in NOEs 22. They were rewarded for their hard work when ball won at the scrum was taken on and a couple of phases later quick ball was moved left. Fly half Alex Selby threw a missed pass to winger Josh Emery who went over wide on the left to touch down for Kenilworth’s second try. With the conversion again missed Kenilworth saw out the first half very effectively with Hannam again coming to the fore in defence, achieving his second turnover of the game for a 10-7 half time lead.
The second half started much the same way with NOEs pressing hard, but again Kenilworth’s impressive defence held strong and only a few minutes in Kenilworth scraped back a NOEs line out. The ball was moved quickly left and the impressive Hannam took a short pass from Charlie Stevens and made good ground towards the try line only to be brought down short. Good support and drive from Stevens got Kenilworth almost to the line. It was left to scrum half Renownden to finish off another excellent team score by touching down for Kenilworth’s third of the match. With the try unconverted, Kenilworth increased their lead to 15-7.
The earlier pattern of the game continued with the very determined and spirited NOEs coming back again at Kenilworth and more increasingly playing a wider game. However, Kenilworth continued to look strong in defence and on more than one occasion quickly turned defence into attack. The visitors made in-roads deep into the opposition half and on one occasion good ground was made by O'Brien. From a subsequent line out, Kenilworth caught and drove at the NOEs line.
It was the home side’s turn though to show their defensive prowess by halting Kenilworth’s drive and gaining possession of the ball and clearing to the halfway line. Following a period of mid-pitch exchanges Kenilworth briefly let their high standards slip when becoming loose by kicking hard-won ball away and soon after giving away a penalty which was kicked into the corner. From the resultant line out, messy ball was retrieved by NOEs and touched down near to the corner flag. With the try unconverted, NOEs had got themselves right back into the game by reducing the deficit to just three points with the score now standing at 15-12.
With less than 10 minutes to go, rather than simply try to protect the potentially fragile three-point lead, Kenilworth took the game back to the home side and pressed for their fourth try of the game. Despite a really good position being lost when an overly ambitious long pass was thrown directly into touch, Kenilworth remained deep in the opposition 22 and were rewarded when continued pressure saw Mikkel Andreson touch down. Again unconverted, the final whistle blew immediately after with Kenilworth achieving an impressive and well deserved 20-12 win to remain top of the table.
Next up this coming Saturday, Kenilworth host Old Coventrians at Glasshouse Lane. On the following Wednesday Kenilworth play their last game of 2018 when they travel to face Old Laurentians in the Warwickshire Shield.