Kenilworth 13 Sutton Coldfield 52
Given Kenilworth's predominantly young and inexperienced team, plus the fact that Sutton Coldfield, who narrowly failed to make the grade into National League rugby last term, were the current leaders of Midlands One West, this was always going to be a testing afternoon. So it proved, as the men from north Birmingham gradually wore down spirited first-half resistance resistance to record an easy victory, courtesy of a barrage of tries during the final quarter of the contest (writes Bob Jones).
The opening exchanges were fairly even and uninspiring. It was Sutton who had the first scoring opportunity, but wing Rob Watts' strong run was curtailed by the attention of Tom Kendall and Nyle Beckett. A break by Russ Clarke, then a typical Bobby Thompson drive promised better things but the ball eventually went to ground. Watts was away again but once more Beckett saved the day with a great tackle. The Ks were mainly relying on the trusty boot of Clarke to gain territory, although little accrued from this. Following a turned scrum, and subsequent pressure, the visitors opened their account after 17 minutes, when fly-half Daniel Poulton jinked over for a try, which he also converted. Five minutes later, Kenilworth were level. A Gareth Renowden snipe to within the opposition 22, followed by a drive by the pack saw the ball knocked on. As Sutton attempted to clear their lines after a scrum, the alert Beckett intercepted and went over under the posts, Kendall adding the extras. The next few minutes were Kenilworth's best of the game. A smart turnover by Phil Dickson created havoc in the Sutton ranks and led to a penalty for offside, which Kendall dispatched, to edge the home side into the lead on 26 minutes. This was the wake-up call Sutton required, and they began to show a variety of moves involving both forwards and backs that left the Ks with a lot of defensive work. It was no surprise when centre Josh Groom outwitted the cover to touch down, Poulton converting after 32 minutes. It took the combined effort of Jonny Cresswell and the industrious Beckett to stave off further damage. A Renowden tap- and-go nearly paid dividends, but the half closed with the visitors leading 10-14.
A penalty against the Ks for not releasing straight after the start of the second half saw the ball sent to touch deep in home territory. An excellent pass in the next passage of play was taken by prop Brook Davies, who was in at the corner for an unconverted try. Jake Wombwell-Povey was introduced for Joshua Weaver on 9 minutes, as Sutton began to really turn the screw. After battering away close to the Kenilworth line, lock Anthony Worthington went over for another unconverted try. As the game entered its final quarter, there was some respite and reward for the home side. Sutton conceded three penalties in quick succession, and Kendall nailed the last. Nick Collett was now withdrawn in favour of Jake Dodd. Kenilworth attacks were hitherto sporadic and mostly forward-based, with a 50m surge by Thompson and lovely offload to Andy Whitehall, the highlight. On the half-hour, the game really began to slip away from the Ks. Groom collected his second converted try after a sweeping move by the threequarters, and two minutes later, scrum-half Luke Ward had no difficulty in penetrating the cover for another converted score. Worse was to follow, as Watts was twice on the score-sheet within three minutes; each try being converted by Poulton. As referee Paul Cassidy was contemplating the final whistle, the hard-working Dickson was replaced by Oliver Burman.
Kenilworth:Graur, Cresswell (Capt), Collett, Smith, Flowers, Weaver, Dickson, Thompson, Renowden, Clarke, Bowden, Sheehan, Whitehall, Beckett, Kendall. Replacements: Dodd, Burman, Wombwell-Povey.
Kenilworth 13 Sutton Coldfield 52