Dogged Kenilworth secure derby win over Earlsdon
Kenilworth returned to winning ways on Saturday with a tenacious victory over local rivals Earlsdon at a cold and wet Glasshouse Lane despite going down to 13 players in the first half, writes Sophie Freestone.
The conditions meant it was never going to be an afternoon for free-flowing, running rugby and it was Earlsdon who scored the first points of the afternoon. Having pressurised the Kenilworth five metre line as the opening quarter came to an end, the hosts crossed the line through Lawrence Gittins after a scrum to give them a 5-0 lead.
Kenilworth responded well however, with wing Ed Hannam burrowing his way over from close range. His try nudged the hosts into a two-point lead following the successful conversion from the boot of Simon Tyler.
With the half hour mark approaching, Earlsdon were once again inside the Kenilworth 22, with the hosts losing prop Dan Roberts to the sin bin for collapsing the maul. The visitors soon made the most of their one-man advantage with number eight Martin Wood crashing over for his side's second try and a 10-7 lead.
Sustained pressure in the Kenilworth 22 then saw the hosts go down to 13 players with full back Ollie Sharples shown a yellow card for a try-saving deliberate knock on just five metres from the Kenilworth line. Despite having two more players on the pitch, Earlsdon were unable to turn their pressure into points with Kenilworth's defence holding firm to keep the score at 10-7 at the break.
Having found themselves a try down early in the first half, Kenilworth wasted no time in regaining the lead in the second forty. A trademark snipe from Gareth Renowden saw the scrum half go over by the posts following a tap-and-go penalty. Tyler was once again on target with the conversion to put his side 14-10 up.
Earlsdon then cut the gap to a single point with a penalty from in front of the posts before Tyler responded with three points from his left boot to restore his side's four-point lead. The visitors then found themselves down to 14 men when a second row was sin binned.
A second penalty for Tyler as the final quarter approached made the score 20-13 before Charlie Stevens took the game beyond doubt with a try under the posts after 75 minutes. The young centre charged down an Earlsdon clearance kick and his quick reactions saw him race clear in the 22 to cross the whitewash. Tyler added the extras for a 27-13 lead.
With victory now secured Kenilworth were keen to earn the all-important bonus point and that's exactly what they did with prop Dan Minks crossing on the right with just a minute to go. Tyler dragged his conversion just to the left of the uprights before the referee called time on a physical encounter in tough conditions.
Selected pics from the game are HERE
Kenilworth now sit in third place in the league behind table-toppers Doritwich and second-placed Malvern. They are back in action on Saturday as they travel to Evesham for their last away trip of 2017.