Second Leamington victory seals third sport for Kenilworth
Kenilworth took on local rivals Leamington in the derby for their final match of the season on Saturday, securing a 29-22 victory to confirm their third place finish in the league, writes Sophie Freestone.
The result means Kenilworth finish behind champions Droitwich and second-placed Malvern, but five points ahead of rivals Earlsdon. The Coventry side had been pushing Kenilworth hard in the closing stages of the season but victory at Moorefields cemented Kenilworth's top three finish.
Having secured a 22-0 victory against Leamington on the opening day of the season, it was Kenilworth who put themselves on the scoreboard first in the reverse fixture. The visitors set up a rolling maul inside the Leamington 22 and Chris Whitehead went over in the corner to open his side's account.
The two sides then exchanged penalties, with Leamington cutting the gap to two points through Jim Robertson before Kenilworth restored their five point advantage thanks to three points from the boot of Simon Tyler. Those kicks made the score 8-3 with 14 minutes on the clock.
Following a period of disjointed play, Kenilworth extended their lead through Gareth Renowden. The scrum half picked the ball up from the base of a ruck and dived over to score against his former club. Tyler's conversion added the extras to extend his side's lead to 15-3 midway through the opening forty.
Leamington responded well, however, and after a series of successful pick and gos, the ball made its way to replacement Luca Illing who crossed in the left corner. The missed conversion meant Kenilworth held a 15-8 lead with just over half an hour gone.
That lead was extended just a few minutes later however when Tyler went over for his side's third of the match after 36 minutes. Fly half Alex Selby was on target with the conversion to give his side a 22-8 lead at the break.
Kenilworth started the second half brightly, with Kenilworth putting together some strong attacking play to put pressure on the hosts' defence. They couldn't turn that pressure into points, however, and it was Leamington that scored the first points of the half.
With 58 minutes played, Leamington got themselves back into the match. Illing spotted a gaping hole in the Kenilworth defence to score after his side had worked their way into the visitors 22. The successful conversion from Robertson took Leamington to within seven points of the visitors as the match entered the final quarter.
A try seven minutes later from the returning Ed Hannam restored Kenilworth's 15-point lead with 15 minutes to play following the successful conversion. A third try for Leamington from prop Danny Phillips with four minutes remaining cut the gap to seven points once again but it was too little too late. Kenilworth held on for an important 29-22 victory to secure third place.
You can find pics of the game HERE
Speaking after the match, Whitehead said: "I'm am so pleased for the whole squad with today's result.
"Leamington made it difficult for us but we stuck to our plan and got the result we deserved. More importantly, we achieved our target from January of finishing in third place which was a big aim for us and we can't wait for next season."