Kenilworth’s first competitive game of the season was at a grey, blustery, and at times cold, Mayo Road ground at Shipston-on-Stour, with the side securing a 39-3 victory in the first round of the Warwickshire Shield, writes Bruce Doe.After a well-structured, well-attended and committed pre-season, Kenilworth were keen to get into action. Both sides started enthusiastically, with Shipston showing a real willingness to commit to the tackle and carry at Kenilworth. However, it was the visitors who settled down first and after 10 minutes both the forwards and backs drove at the Shipston defence, with flanker Ollie Burman finding a gap to dive over for the first, unconverted try.
Shipston responded well by taking the game to Kenilworth with their forwards driving hard and their backs showing good use of the ball through the hands. However, Kenilworth's defence stood firm and slowly but surely pushed Shipston back towards their line. A five-metre line out was secured by Kenilworth who drove towards the Shipston whitewash. The ball was then shipped out wide for Tommy Jones to touch down for the second unconverted try.
At this stage the gamed seemed to ‘even out’ with both teams playing in and around the middle of the park and it was Shipston who got some reward for their endeavours. They pushed Kenilworth into their own 22 and secured a penalty that they was successfully converted to leave the score at 10-3 in Kenilworth's favour at the break.
Kenilworth started the second half well, going quickly on the offensive and securing a penalty which was kicked into the corner. The resulting line out was well won and the forwards drove towards and over the Shipston line through Gareth Renowden. Again, the conversion was missed by skipper Bobby Thompson as the blustery, cross wind intervened to leave the score at 15-3.
From the restart, Kenilworth secured the Shipston kick off and, having sucked in the Shipston forwards, the ball was spun wide to Ed Hannam. He ran through the Shipston defence, handing off tackle attempts and covering 70 metres on his way to scoring an excellent, unconverted try near the posts to extend the visitors' lead.
With Kenilworth now in full control, it was only eight minutes later that they scored again following a strong ‘bullocking’ run from Hannam. This resulted in a maul on the Shipston line and skipper Thompson driving over for the try.Despite another missed conversion, Kenilworth extended their already comfortable lead to 25-3.
Shipston continued to battle hard however, particularly through their forwards, as they fought to secure and retain ball but Kenilworth were by now well in control. The superb back row of Andreson, Gerber and Burnam were not only making good yards but also destroying opposition possession quickly. This forced Shipston errors and indiscretions and, from a penalty, a returning Alex Selby kicked to the corner to secure a line out five metres out. Again, good line out ball was secured and the resultant catch and drive saw the forwards touch down. Thompson was successful with the conversion this time, making the score 32-3.
Additional pressure on the Shipston line resulted in Renowden burrowing his way over the line for his second try of the day, with Thompson again converting. The final whistle blew not long after for a sound 39-3 away win over a battling and very combative Shipston side.
Elsewhere at Kenilworth, the 2nd XV lost a closely contested match away to Earlsdon by 15-14. The try scorers for the Glasshouse Lane side were Neil Carter and James Thomason, with Dan Retter and Rob Thomason slotting the conversions.
Photos of the mtch against Shipson can be viewed HERE.