Kenilworth Ladies survived a late onslaught from Lutterworth to secure a tense 19-12 victory at Glasshouse Lane, securing their fourth victory in four league matches to stay top of the NC Midlands 1, writes Sophie Freestone.
It was a match in which the experience of Lutterworth came up against a comparatively new side in Kenilworth and from the opening stages it looked as if the hosts would go on to secure a comfortable victory. Tim Burden's side scored two tries in the opening ten minutes to open up a 12-0 lead.
The first of these tries came from winger Sophie Henry, when the ball was fed through the hands to Henry in the Lutterworth twenty two, with Felicity Baldwin passing to the speedy winger. Henry made no mistake and touched down in the corner to score an early try to give her side a 5-0 lead with just three minutes on the clock.
The second try came courtesy of Beth Woodward on the opposite wing when a well-worked turnover from flanker Fran Dargan allowed scrum half Rebecca Lane to whip quick ball out to fly half Abi Minor. That released Woodward on the right, and the centre-turned-wing raced past the Lutterworth defence and scored under the posts. Rebecca Lewis added the extras from the tee to extend her side's lead to 12 points with just ten minutes on the clock.
However, as the first half went on Lutterworth grew into the game and made it difficult for Kenilworth to add to their early scores. With the opening forty entering it's final stages, the pressure began to build on the Kenilworth defence and penalties started to come. Eventually there was one penalty too many and flanker Cath Lyon was shown a yellow. Lutterworth then capitalised on their one man advantage with quick hands taking the ball out to full back Lucy Henderson who scored in the corner. The conversion was short as the first half ended with Kenilworth holding a 12-5 advantage.
The hosts began the second half in the same way they opened the first, scoring a try straight from the restart. Having started at full back, Baldwin was moved to centre for the second half in a reshuffled back line and her presence at 13 had an immediate impact. The centre found herself in space on the right wing and sprinted through the Lutterworth defence to score. Lewis' successful conversion extended her side's lead to 19-5.
Having built a strong lead with just under 40 minutes to play, Kenilworth then came up against a series of Lutterworth attacks for much of the second half, with further penalties giving Lutterworth both territory and possession. Strong Kenilworth defence kept the visitors at bay however, until scrum half Sophie Etheridge broke through to cut the deficit to nine points with a try under the posts. Fly half Claire Evans' conversion meant that there were just seven points in it with ten minutes to play.
Further attacks from Lutterworth in the closing stages continued to put Kenilworth under pressure. However, an impressive defensive effort and Lutterworth's failure to take their opportunities meant that Kenilworth held on to secure an important 19-12 victory. That result sees them stay top of the league, two points clear of Five Ways Old Edwardians. Their next league fixture sees them travel to Wellingborough on Sunday 5th November.
Prior to that, the Ladies development side are in action as they take on the University of Birmingham on Sunday away from home.
For images from this match, please click HERE