Buckinghamshire-based Olney proved too strong for Kenilworth as they ended the Glasshouse Lane side's Intermediate Cup campaign in the first round on Saturday, writes Sophie Freestone.The last time these two sides met was back in the 1940s and it was Olney that got off to the strongest start in the 2017 edition of this fixture. The visitors gave themselves an early five-point lead, with just seven minutes on the clock, when flanker Ryan Hammett went over out wide for his first try for the senior side. Kenilworth had been penalised at the ruck and the resulting five metre line out gave Olney the field position they needed to take the lead.
Much of the opening quarter saw Olney pressurise the Kenilworth defence, however the hosts managed to stave off their attacks for much of that period. The visitors did eventually find a way through with 17 minutes on the clock, though, when fly half Jordan Letts kicked downfield, with a number of Olney players chasing to regain possession. Letts fired the ball out to centre Hamish Bull who scored the five points in the corner. Scrum half Kieren Manson's touchline conversion was on target to give his side a twelve-point advantage.
Kenilworth responded well, however, and were eventually rewarded with a penalty deep inside the Olney half. The subsequent five metre line out put Kenilworth in a strong position, and a powerful driving maul saw Bobby Thompson touchdown by the posts under a pile of bodies for his side's opening score. Centre Simon Tyler's successful conversion cut the gap to just five points on the half hour mark.
Despite Kenilworth's response, Olney soon regained their twelve-point lead when Ryan Hammett scored his second of the afternoon after indiscipline from Kenilworth gave the visitors a well-positioned attacking line out. The Olney pack secured the ball and Hammett touched down from the back of the driving maul. Manson was once again on target with the conversion to add the extras and give his side a 19-7 lead as the first half entered its closing stages.
Kenilworth's second half performance was much better, restricting Olney to just a single penalty from Manson as the fifty minute mark approached for a 22-7 lead. Despite falling behind by fifteen points, Kenilworth continued to press the Olney defence and their efforts were rewarded when Tyler broke through a hole to score on the left after 54 minutes. Gareth Renowden, playing number ten, made no mistake with conversion to put his side just eight pits adrift with more than a quarter left to play.
As the match entered the final twenty, it was very much Kenilworth on the attack as they looked to come back in the closing stages. However, some powerful defence from Olney, particularly in the closing ten minutes, prevented Kenilworth from breaching their line again and the match ended in a 22-14 defeat for the hosts.
In other news from Kenilworth, the 2nd XV secured a 31-19 victory over Harbury and the Ladies beat Old Silhillians 71-0. Phoebe Howles scored four tries, with Helena Allison-Moore, Siobhan Allison-Moore, Caroline Spence, Beth Woodward and Cath Lyon also on the scoreboard in the latest of their development fixtures.
Next up for Kenilworth's 1st XV is a trip to Malvern in the league tomorrow (Saturday), while the Ladies will be hoping for a better outcome than the men's team when they travel to Olney on Sunday. Both sides will be looking to continue their unbeaten start to the league season.
Photos of the match can be viewed HERE.