Kenilworth suffered a heavy defeat away to Malvern on Saturday but a strong finish saw them score three tries in the final twenty minutes to earn a crucial bonus point, writes Sophie Freestone.
The visitors found themselves three points down inside the opening ten minutes after former Gloucester full back Rob Cook opened the scoring for Malvern with a simple penalty from in front of the posts.
Despite Kenilworth's immediate response which saw them reach the Malvern 22, the hosts' defence stood firm to keep Kenilworth's attack at bay. Having staved off the pressure from the visitors, Malvern responded with their first try of the afternoon. Sam Parsons passed to Cook in space, whose kick ahead was collected by Tom Hale who crossed the line. Cook's conversion added the extras for a 10-0 lead.
This lead soon became 17-0 with 17 minutes on the clock, when scrum half George Parsons kept pace with Luke Milton to be on hand for his side's second of the afternoon. The conversion from Cook extended Malvern's lead.
Despite the deficit, Kenilworth were determined to get on the scoreboard and that's exactly what they did, through scrum half Gareth Renowden after 19 minutes. Substitute Rhys Jones made a superb break up the left wing with his first touch of the ball, before offloading to Renowden in the tackle who touched down. The conversion from Alex Selby was just wide of the uprights.
The remainder of the first half was a relatively quiet affair with neither side adding to their score until the 37th minute when Malvern extended their lead before the break. A penalty kick to the corner gave the hosts a five metre line out and the made no mistake in catching and driving over the line for Glen Potter to touch down. Once again, Cook added the extras to give his side a 24-5 lead at the break.
With Malvern holding a comfortable lead as the second half got underway, it didn't take them long to secure the four-try bonus point, with George Parsons scoring his second of the afternoon and Cook successfully converting to extend his side's lead to 31-5.
The hosts had put themselves in a commanding position after just 45 minutes of play and over the course of the next ten minutes they strengthened it further, scoring three tries in quick succession. Hale scored all three to take his tally for the match to four, with Cook converting two and Ben King one for a 50-5 lead after 55 minutes.
Their eighth try of the match came with 60 minutes on the clock when Adam Dixon was on hand to run in on the right of the posts. King's conversion was on target to extend his side's lead to 57-5 with the final quarter to play.
Although the visitors found themselves more than fifty points behind, their spirits didn't drop and they were rewarded in the final twenty minutes with three tries to secure an all-important bonus point. Ed Hannam, who had an excellent game on the wing, was on hand to score in the right corner after his side played with some real intent to breach the Malvern line for the second time. Bobby Thompson's excellent conversion made the score 57-12 with 17 minutes left on the clock.
Thompson then went from try converter to try scorer as he crossed the whitewash with ten minutes to play. The conversion was wide of the uprights to leave the score at 57-17 as the match entered its final stages.
Having applied signifiant pressure in the Malvern 22, Kenilworth's efforts came to fruition when Ed Hannam scored his second of the match by diving over the top of the ruck to score, securing the bonus point.
The defeat leaves Kenilworth in fifth place on six points after two matches, with their next fixture taking place against Nuneaton Old Edwardians at Glasshouse Lane on Saturday.