Kenilworth Ladies kick-started life in the Women's NC Midlands 1 league with a 15-12 win against Five Ways Old Edwardians on Sunday, writes Sophie Freestone.The Glasshouse Lane outfit were promoted at the end of last season and secured victory over a side they had played on two previous occasions. The latter of those matches resulted in a 26-10 defeat of Five Ways in the Junior Cup last season.
The opening phases of Sunday's match saw Five Ways enjoy a sustained period of possession and territory, with Kenilworth's defence overcoming the pressure from their visitors. Having staved off the Five Ways attack, Kenilworth were the first on the scoreboard, with Beth Woodward touching down under the posts. The centre made a superb run from her own half, breaking through tackles and dodging her way past the Five Ways defence to score an impressive solo try. League debutant Rebecca Lewis added the extras to give her side a 7-0 lead midway through the first half.
The remainder of the opening forty continued to be a close contest, with both sides testing the defence. However, both side's defensive efforts held firm and Kenilworth went into the break with a 7-0 lead having made the most of their opportunities.
In a match that was always going to be a tight affair, it was a case of taking chances when they came, and it was Kenilworth that did so after 45 minutes. A kickable penalty was awarded and Lewis stepped up to give her side a 10-0 advantage with three points from the tee.
Having extended their lead it wasn't to last long, as Five Ways responded with a try on the right after pressurising the Kenilworth defence from close range. The successful conversion closed the gap to just three points with twenty minutes remaining to ensure a nerve-wracking finale.
Kenilworth went on to respond perfectly however, with captain Rebecca Lane making a superb charge up the pitch deep into Five Ways territory. Fly half Abigail Minor took the ball to the 22 before offloading to speedy winger Sophie Henry who scored in the corner on her league debut. Lewis' conversion attempt drifted wide of the uprights to leave Kenilworth with a 15-7 lead with just over 15 minutes to play.
As the match entered its final stages, Five Ways continued to push for a try to cut the deficit, and their efforts paid off just three minutes from time. The visitors crossed on the right to provide a grandstand finish at Glasshouse Lane. The conversion went to the left of the uprights to close the gap to just three points as the visitors looked to come from behind.
Kenilworth's defence held firm however, and the hosts secured a 15-12 victory, their third against Five Ways, as they began the new season in winning fashion. Their next competitive fixture is away to Olney in the league on Sunday 24th September, with the Development side in action at Old Silhillians on Sunday.