Kenilworth 44 - Dunlop 29
The first outing of the league season at the Jack Davies Memorial Ground saw an absorbing game between two sides relegated from Midlands 1 West last season, writes Glyn Owen. A large and vocal crowd was anticipating lots of running rugby in the almost Mediterranean temperatures but the opening exchanges were rather error ridden and failed to produce any discernible pattern for either side. Dunlop were perhaps the more cohesive side in the first quarter making inroads in the wider channels and only an excellent tackle from Kendall, who was to have an influential game from full back, prevented a score.
And it was Kendall, resuming after some time out with injury, who provided the first points with an excellent penalty from just inside the Dunlop half. With Kenilworth’s set pieces not quite going to plan, Dunlop were able to make territory and after a series of infringements they leveled the scores with a well struck penalty from their scrum half.
Kenilworth began to show a little more cohesion with both scrum and lineout settling down and the rest of the half would be played almost exclusively in Dunlop’s half. Kendall extended the lead with another penalty and two close range tries followed after patient work in the red zone. Scrum half Renowden sniped over for the first and prop forward Collett garnered the second with some opportunistic work from a catch and drive when some more conservative souls were baying for a kick at goal. Full marks to the skipper, Thompson, for a brave decision. Kendall converted both and also added the extras when Openshaw galloped over down the right. Kenilworth were in control now and when Tyler finished an excellent move to take the score to 32 -3 and claim the bonus point for four tries Kenilworth seemed on the way to a comfortable second half.
However, the concentration switched off and Dunlop were gifted a try just before half time after some less than composed defensive work including a fly hack which ricocheted to the wrong shirt.
Half Time Kenilworth 32 - Dunlop 10
The half time team talk pressed home the need to move the Dunlop pack around and go through the phases. With O’Brien’s line kicking becoming increasingly influential, this approach was duly rewarded when after a superb line out take from an accurate throw to the tail Renowden drew in the defence before releasing the backs allowing centre Holton to score a debut try in the left corner. Perhaps sensing the game to be won Kenilworth became complacent in defence and began to concede unnecessary penalties. From a foothold in Dunlop’s half penalty after penalty was conceded and the result was a converted try after a well executed catch and drive. And when Dunlop tore through the midfield after a cleverly disguised delayed pass to score again a few jitters were spreading through the Kenilworth faithful.
But Kenilworth winger Beckett, who had had a quiet afternoon with little or no ball coming his way, stamped his mark on proceedings after snaffling a bobbling ball on half way. His pace took him away from defenders in typical style and the run in was a formality as was Kendall’s conversion to take the score to 44-22. Dunlop, however, had the last word with their right winger finishing well on the right after a series of drives towards the Kenilworth line.
The satisfactory outcome was a five point haul from a win and six tries and Kenilworth will travel in good heart to Droitwich next week with some returnees available to provide keen competition for selection this week.
Final score Kenilworth 44 Dunlop 29