Kenilworth started life in Midlands West 2 South with a solid 22-0 victory over their local rivals Leamington on Saturday, writes Sophie Freestone.
The Glasshouse Lane side were relegated last season but got their new campaign off to a great start. In a physical contest, Leamington were unable to register a single point, with the Kenilworth defence proving too well-organised for their Moorefields opposition.
The hosts started the match strongly, with a try after just six minutes from winger Kurt Morgan. The move started inside the Leamington half with number eight Mikkel Andresen taking it up to the half way line. A slick offload to Gareth Renowden allowed the scrum half to find centre Tommy Jones who released Morgan on the right for the game's opening score. The conversion from captain Bobby Thompson drifted to the left of the uprights.
Midway through the first half Kenilworth then doubled their lead thanks to another well-worked try for a winger, with Ed Hannam crossing on the left. In a move that started with the quick-thinking Renowden collecting a loose ball, fly half Alex Selby was released up the right with the oncoming Morgan making further yards to reach the visitors' 22. The ball was then whipped out to the left and into the arms of Hannam who strolled over for his side's second score. Thompson's missed conversion kept the score at 10-0.
In a derby to kick off the league season, both sides put in crunching tackles as they looked to earn the local bragging rights. However, it was Kenilworth's ability to take their opportunities that set the sides apart at half time, with a score of 10-0.
Kenilworth started the second half in much the same way as they began the first, scoring a try after just five minutes. Number eight Andresen scooped the ball up from the base of the scrum to barge over by the posts following a penalty that gave the hosts good field position with a five metre line out. Thompson successfully added the extras to give his side a commanding 17-0 lead.
With the bulk of the play taking place in the middle of the park, Leamington never seemed to threaten the Kenilworth defence and it was the hosts who showed the most intent. Their efforts came to fruition after 62 minutes thanks to another penalty that resulted in a five metre line out. The combination of second rows Will Johnson and Raj Bahey worked well, with Bahey offloading to a charging Ross Lowthian who took the ball up to the visitors five metre line. Quick hands shipped the ball out to Jones who secured his second try assist of the afternoon by passing to Thompson for an easy run in, and a crucial bonus point. The missed conversion left the score at 22-0 and gave the visitors a comfortable lead with less than 20 minutes to play.
The final quarter saw Leamington put themselves in good attacking positions but Kenilworth's defence would not be broken. The hosts searched for further try scoring opportunities but Leamington prevented any further scores and the match finished with Kenilworth coming out on top by 22-0.
Kenilworth's 2nd XV also took on Leamington on Saturday, coming back from 22-0 down to score 31 unanswered points in a 31-22 victory and give the club a derby day double. Kenilworth's 1st XV are next in action on Saturday as they take on Olney at Glasshouse Lane in Round 1 of the Intermediate Cup. Kick off is at 3pm.
Photos of the action can be viewed HERE.