Leaders Droitwich overpower Kenilworth in comprehensive defeat
Kenilworth suffered a comprehensive defeat to league leaders Droitwich on Saturday, losing by 45-5 at a wet and muddy Glasshouse Lane, writes Bruce Doe.
After an earlier long spell of fine and persistent rain, Droitwich showed their confidence in the opening stages, taking the game to Kenilworth, and the visitors were soon within in touching distance of the Kenilworth line. They were rewarded for their territory with a scrum before opening the scoring after four successive 'pick and gos' that took them over the whitewash to the right of the posts. The subsequent conversion gave them an early 7-0 lead.
Kenilworth responded superbly however, by putting pressure on Droitwich following the re-start and taking possession of the ball. Both forwards and backs were then involved in numerous phases moving right and left before Raj Bahey went over towards the touch line to score Kenilworth's first, and only, try of the match. With the conversion missed, Kenilworth were now 5-7 down
From the re-start Droitwich won the ball and retained it well with their forwards passing accurately and driving through the middle of the park towards the Kenilworth line. Despite Kenilworth’s brave commitment in the tackle, Droitwich went over for the second converted try, again close to the posts, with the conversion making it 14-5 to the visitors.
All credit to Kenilworth though who won a penalty when they returned to the Droitwich half, resulting in a line out near to the visitors' 22. Kenilworth won the line out and continued to drive at the opposition with both forwards and backs involved. Unfortunately a penalty thwarted Kenilworth’s efforts and Droitwich cleared their lines, steadily taking play back into the Kenilworth 22 from the resulting line out.
By now the rain was extremely heavy making handling and ball retention very difficult. It was with that in mind that Kenilworth's fly half Josh O’Brien sought to control a ball that was kicked through with his foot before picking it up. The referee judged that the ball had been knocked on, however, and from the subsequent scrum, Droitwich attacked to the left with their pack driving towards the Kenilworth line. The visitors' scrum half eventually touched down and the successful conversion extended their lead to 21-5.
With half time approaching, Droitwich scored another try out wide, this time unconverted. the try came after a catch and drive 10 yards out to give the visitors a comfortable 26-5 lead at the break.
Following the re-start Droitwich again took the game strongly to Kenilworth and went over for a try, again wide out and unconverted, to take the score to 31-5. Kenilworth were by now extremely unlikely to get back into the game and it was becoming very much a case of damage limitation. The effort however could never be faulted and they continued to tackle and compete all over the park. As injuries and tiredness crept in changes were being made, with a strong-looking and busy Lloyd Phillips coming on in place of Chris Pemble for his 1st XV debut before Will Blackmore made way for Marcus Andrew.
Adam Turner also came off the bench and had a good first touch gaining 20 to 30 metres by stepping inside towards the Droitwich posts. The well organised Droitwich defence held firm though and they quickly and efficiently made progress up the park towards Kenilworth's 22. It was on the 22 that the referee awarded a penalty against Kenilworth for an infringement at the breakdown, resulting in Tondi Mpambawashe being yellow carded. To rub salt into the wounds, Droitwich crossed again for their sixth try, which was this time converted, to extend their lead to 38-5.
It was only five minutes later that Droitwich crossed again. With an increasing number of Kenilworth players carrying knocks, and with one man down, the Droitwich forwards yet again drove towards the hosts' line and one of their second rows drove over from just a few feet out. That was to be the final try of the match and with the successful conversion, it finished with Droitwich securing a 45-5 victory.
Despite the heavy defeat, it was a great effort from Kenilworth against tough opposition, with the players showing real commitment from start to finish. The side now have five matches remaining in the league and will be looking to finish the season strongly, starting with this weekend's away match against Berkswell & Balsall.