KENILWORTH RUGBY FOOTBALL CLUB
Kenilworth progressed to the Midlands Final of the RFU Intermediate Cup with an outstanding team performance against a strong Olney side to secure a 36-17 win, writes Peter Jones.
The home side started impressively with a large and powerful pack showing their intent to take on the lighter Kenilworth forwards. After only five minutes, however, Kenilworth scored an outstanding counter-attacking try to take an early lead from within their own 22.
Full back Rhys Jones, complete with heavy bandage covering his “Harry Potter” forehead scar, gathered a kick off his laces and fed winger Ollie Burman who made 40 metres. Burman then found Gareth Renowden in support who fed the outstanding Mikkel Andresen to score a fantastic try under the posts. Newly-elected kicker, Ed Hannam, added the extras.
The home side responded with some good attacking moves, but were unable to secure any continuity of possession due to Kenilworth’s outstanding work at the breakdown. Back-row forwards Andresen and Sam Harrison repeatedly scavenged the opposition ball to provide Kenilworth with great counter-attacking opportunities. As a result, the home side were unable to get into their stride, and Kenilworth maintained a dominance throughout the game. After further Kenilworth pressure, Hannam added another penalty to extend the visitors' lead to 10-0.
On the cusp of half time, another breakdown steal from Harrison fed Andresen who was again scored, this time from 35 metres out. Hannam again added the conversion to give Kenilworth a 17-point lead at half time.
In an impressive first half, all aspects of Kenilworth’s game were on song. Hooker Harry Abell showed an accuracy reminiscent of the late great Eric Bristow, and young second rows Tondi Mpambawashe and Josh Fox proved to be outstanding jumpers aided by Nick Gerber and Andresen.
The front row of Rhidian Booth, Abell and Dave Bromfield dominated their larger opponents and did much of the “hard yards work”. Nick Gerber added power in the back row but had to be replaced around half time because of a hamstring injury. Half-backs Alex Selby and Renowden enjoyed a glut of possession, while Hannam and Bobby Thompson provided a brick wall in defence.
After the break, Olney were still in the game but after only five minutes, a quick tap penalty lead to a further try, this time by the outstanding Harrison. Hannam again did the honours, giving Kenilworth a 24-0 lead.
Some indifferent tackling from Kenilworth then allowed the home side to add a try shortly afterwards, which went unconverted. However, Kenilworth maintained pressure and a superb pick up by wing Josh Emery off his toenails led to another try and extended Kenilworth’s lead. Hannam's successful conversion made the score 31-5.
Olney scored a further try which was converted to bring the scores to 12-31 but Kenilworth's Renowden and Selby continued to control the game well. With less than ten minutes to play, an Olney player was yellow carded for a deliberate knock-down. A try followed from the ensuing maul, scored by captain Thompson. Hannam’s kick went just wide of the uprights as Kenilworth held a 36-12 advantage.
Substitute forward Edward Rogers added dynamism when he came onto the field and replacement prop Dan Roberts maintained Kenilworth’s scrummaging dominance. Olney added a late try but it was mere consolation as Kenilworth secured a splendid 36-17 victory. On a day when many players showed outstanding performances, head coach Dave Ellis chose Sam Harrison as the Man of the Match.
The victory means Kenilworth now progress to the Intermediate Cup Midlands Final where they will take on league rivals Kidderminster on Saturday 16th March at Glasshouse Lane.
Tries: Andresen (2), Harrison, Emery, Thompson
Conversions: Hannam (4)