A gorgeous, if chilly, early winter afternoon awaited the very first visit of Market Bosworth to Glasshouse Lane. With the heart-stopping developments at Malvern still fresh in the mind, the home side were looking for a much better performance and, most importantly, a good start.
Right from the off the Ks looked right on their game; the tackle area was being well contested and swift handling in the 3/4s suggested a more structured approach than the previous week. With barely 3 minutes gone the ball was moved wide following a series of phases close to the visitors’ line and Beckett gleefully accepted the scoring pass and Kendall’s conversion got the afternoon off to the best possible start. The pattern continued after the restart with some great work by Sheehan freeing up his centre partner Tyler who ran 25m before being hauled down. Again the patient use of phases looked promising and Cresswell darted down the blind side before a slick offload put Thompson in at the corner; unusually Kendall missed the extras so a 12-0 lead was the result of the first 15 minutes work.
Kenilworth were now playing solid rugby with set-piece working well and the backs exhibiting real commitment with and without the ball. As another promising move built on the right flank, the Malvern winger intercepted the ball and looked odds-on to score but a tremendous chase and tackle by Lowthian snuffed out the threat. More threat from Market Bosworth as they built a promising attack, and looked to have numbers, but last-man Kendall showed fine technique to time his tackle and bundle the winger into touch. Eventually the pressure produced something for the visitors and a penalty awarded for a lineout infringement gave them their first points of the day. The pressure on the home line continued after the restart and some high-class defence by Kenilworth prevented further score, Captain Cresswell right at the heart of this effort.
Now came one of those moments that can change a game; young fly-half Glover received a flat pass in midfield and went himself with an impressive turn of speed. With the first defence line breached he had only the full-back to beat at the 22 and a slick step saw him cut inside to score under the posts. Normal Kendall service restored as the successful conversion extends the lead to 19-3. Right from the restart the visitors were back on attack and only more stout defence from Kenilworth kept the scoreboard idle. Awarded a scrum 5m out from their own line, Thompson picked and went from the base and his offload was moved quickly to Beckett who took the ball at his considerable pace and stepped two defenders before being hauled down. The exchanges in midfield were now uncompromising, but fair, from both sides but as Market Bosworth looked to reduce the deficit before half-time a knock on proved the final act of the first 40.
Second half set off with a bang with Mills showing considerable pace and skill to get inside the 22. A couple of phases later and quick thinking at the lineout sees the ball find Selby who spears a pass into Collett in front of the posts and, despite the attention of 3 defenders, the prop stays strong and offloads to Thompson for the score. Kendall’s conversion makes the score 26-3 and with a little over half the game played Kenilworth secured the bonus point and, with the home side in the ascendancy, a rout looked possible. What followed was anything but a rout! This latest score spurred Market Bosworth on and, almost from the restart, they marched the ball to the corner to record their first try. To make matters worse, Lowthian was shown a yellow card for entering the ruck form the side so suddenly a dominant position was under threat.
Market Bosworth wasted little time in making the numbers count and used the width of the pitch to stretch the Kenilworth defence; the gaps soon appeared and another score brings the visitors that much closer at 26-13. The bad new continued for the home side with Mills, who was having a fine game, left the field with a knock. Nevertheless the Ks looked to go forward at every opportunity and are awarded a penalty within Kendall’s range but opted for touch but the ploy failed as the ball was turned over at the lineout. Market Bosworth continued to press and are awarded a penalty near half-way but 2 sets of unwanted chat from the Kenilworth players adds another 20m as the discipline started to slip. With time running out, Creswell is shown a yellow for a deliberate knock-on as he attempts to intercept the long pass and momentum is definitely with the vsitors. The numerical advantage was again used as another converted score was added and the deficit was down to 13 points. That proved to be the final score of the game with Kenilworth winning by 33-20.
This was an infuriating performance in many ways because some of the rugby produced by Kenilworth was simply sublime; in particular the continuity and handling. Inexplicably, having reached the bonus-point score, they levelled off when the flood gates were about to open. This is to take nothing away from Market Bosworth who battled continuously and deserved something from the game. This Kenilworth team plays well when establishing a lead or when having to come from behind – if they can combine those two regimes for 80 minutes they will be a match for anyone in this league.