A definite nip in the air as Kenilworth hosted their final game of 2013 with Stoke on Trent the visitors. The first game of the season had ended all square in Staffordshire but a strengthened Stoke team promised to provide a real test of the Glasshouse Lane outfit.
Great start for the Ks as the returning Jenkinson wasted little time in putting his mark on the game; making good yards before winning a penalty. Wade, seeing a gap in the defence, took the quick tap and crashed over to get the scoreboard moving. This stirred the vsitors into an immediate response and Kenilworth were forced to give away a number of penalties in the red zone; one of which was converted to bring the score back to 5-3. The momentum was clearly with Stoke now and only stout defence prevented them from taking the lead but Kenilworth looked to counter at every opportunity. Their progress was slowed down by some lazy retreating at the ruck; the frustration proved too much for Openshaw and his attempts to speed things up earned him a yellow card.
Ks continued to attack and some great work between Glover, Sheehan and Tyler brought play to within a metre of the Stoke line. Play stops for an attacking scrum to Ken and even with a man advantage, Stoke cannot prevent the pushover; Thompson making the final grounding to make the score 10-3. But again this spurred Stoke to redouble their efforts and with the ball being spun wide, Kenilworth were stretched and gave away their first try in the corner; the spate of missed conversions continued and the score stayed at 10-8. The pendulum swung again with the hosts taking the initiative and Thompson was held up just short of the line for another attacking scrum. A series of infringements saw the referee lose patience and a penalty try was awarded to make the score 17-8. This pattern repeated itself with Kenilworth again pushing hard for the line before an attacking scrum was awarded and Thompson again did the honours and the score was beginning to look ominous for the visitors.
The pressure now was unrelenting and Kenilworth looked like they would score with every possession; the impressive Hickman the latest to join the scorers and convert his own work. Captain Cresswell decided to get in on the action with the deftest of kicks of cross field chips which Jepps got on the end of despite the attention of two defenders.
This was the most complete performance of the season and although the score of 46-22 suggests a rout, Kenilworth had to withstand sustained periods of pressure on their line before they really hit their straps. Nevertheless, sitting 5th in the table at the Christmas break is testament to a great effort in a difficult league so credit to all the players and coaches who made this happen.