“Never leave money on the table” is an instruction often given in sales training; it asks people to get the most out of every opportunity. In this fixture Kenilworth were worthy winners but the performance could have been so much better.
The early omens were good with an early score coming from a catch and drive close to the Brigade’s line but that early lead was followed by a period of skirmishes in midfield in which neither side looked like scoring. Brigade promised much in attack with some clear opportunities being squandered by choosing to kick where ball-in-hand might have produced more.
Despite the amount of possession enjoyed by Brigade, Kenilworth had the edge in almost all facets of the game; set-piece in particular working well with Tom Nicholson excelling. A great example of this superiority came from a set-scrum deep in Ks territory; the break out by Renowden was followed by a kick ahead which looked to put Jimmy Middleton in but the ball was not gathered cleanly and a scrum was awarded to the home side 5m out from their line. Again scrum superiority meant Kenilworth could bring real pressure to bear against the head and the resultant cover forced an early clearance giving the visitors a lineout 5m out. An infringement gave Kenilworth a penalty but Harry O’Brien pushed the ball wide right.
There then followed a period of sustained pressure by Kenilworth and another score looked certain. In what proved to be the final surge in this series, Kenilworth had the ball at the base of a ruck not a yard away from the goal line with the Brigade lock lying on the wrong side of it. He lay there for what seemed an eternity before finally the ref whistled –for a penalty to Brigade!
Kenilworth continued to attack but more often than not these efforts came to nought due to poor decision making or an unforced error in handling. This was to become a feature of the afternoon and better opposition would have taken more advantage. But the picture is not all gloom; the Ks were very quick at exploiting weaknesses in the opposition game even if the execution occasionally let them down. One such attack lead by Gareth Renowden (who had a real curate’s egg of a day) took the ball to within 5m of the Brigade line before offloading and the ball was moved left. A score seemed certain but the final pass, frustratingly, went to ground.
Another extended period of play took place in the home side 22. Unfortunately the scoreboard remained unchanged with a combination of poor finishing and the whistle reliving the pressure on the home side. It would be wrong to lay all the criticism at Kenilworth’s door; time and time again, Brigade got themselves into promising attacking positions but were too ready to put boot to ball at 10. Surprisingly for a team coached by Paul Diggin (still on Northampton Saints’ books as a 1st team player) BBOB did not make the most of their possession and were also guilty of poor decision making when going forward.
If you want to understand a little more of Paul Diggin’s connection to the Brigade, have a look at this short video;
One such foray into the Kenilworth half ended with a defending scrum but an infringement turned the ball over. Backchat from Kenilworth changed the decision to a penalty 20m out in front of the posts which was duly converted to give the home side their first points of the afternoon.
There then followed a passage of play which could have resulted in the try of the season. Brigade’s right winger knocked the ball on attempting to break out of his own 22. With the referee playing a good advantage, Beckett grabbed the ball and ran backwards to give himself time to weigh up his options and saw Whitehall running the most sublime line form deep at 15. Andy took the ball at pace into the heart of the Brigade ¾ line before offering a perfectly weighted pass to Renowden and a deft chip ahead looked to put Middleton in at the corner. Unfortunately the home side managed to gather but were pinged for holding on and the chance seemed gone. The movement and precision in this move coupled with Beckett’s decision making in recognising the opportunity represented everything good about this team; it’s only the last 5% where we fail to make the most of such opportunities.
Reward for this enterprise was not long in coming. Following “that move” the resultant lineout was claimed by Kenilworth and a catch and drive put Collett in close to the posts and Harry O’Brian added 2 to make the half-time score 3-14.
Whatever was said at half-time was acted upon immediately after the break. From the home side kick off, Steve Todd (who had an outstanding afternoon) collected and from the resultant phase the ball was moved left to Lothian. The hooker drew in two defenders before timing his pass to perfection to set Trafford on his way. The centre broke the Brigade line before sending Jimmy Middleton scampering half the length of the field to score in the corner – stunning!
This sparked the home side into a period of real urgency and a prolonged period of attack deep in Kenilworth territory but the decision problems continued and too often the kick was preferred where the hands might have produced more. It is important to note that the Kenilworth defensive play close to their own line was exemplary; alignment and execution were both of a very high standard.
Not only did Kenilworth stem the attacking tide bit often converted this into useful attack. From one such attack Lothian continued showing his hunger for the ball and took the ball into the Brigade defensive line before offering a neat inside pass. The tackle on Lothian, when it came, was both late and dangerous and the Brigade lock was given a yellow card when the consequences could have been much worse.
Kenilworth took very little time to press the advantage home and a big surge up the right wing saw the ball recycled quickly to Purewal at centre that worked an end around with O’Brian and send the ball out to Middleton on the left wing that scored his second of the afternoon.
One might have expected the flood gates to open now but Brigade, to their credit, refused to capitulate and went on a series of attacks to try and close the gap on the visitors. Clearing one such attack, Whitehall had ran out of his 22 but the ball was given away and Brigade looked certain to score with Purewal the only defender left between the winger and the line. Instead of rushing into the tackle Purewal bided his time and when the opportunity presented itself timed his tackle to perfection. The follow up by Brigade saw them keep possession close to the line but appeared to knock the ball on but the whistle remained silent so they moved the ball wide left and scored in the corner.
Indignant at what appeared like rough justice, Kenilworth answered in the best possible way. After recovering the kick-off the outstanding Todd picked up the ball 25 m out and surged towards the line to touch down near the posts – just reward for a fine afternoon’s work. The scoreboard was looking increasingly lopsided and the expectation was for a comfortable last 20 mins to see Kenilworth home; the home side had a different plan.
Straight from the restart Brigade moved the ball close to the Ks line and after a series of pick-and-drives scored close to the posts and the conversion brought the core back t0 17-33. Kenilworth now made some changes for the final 15 mins and for the first time this season, club captain Jonny Creswell entered the fray. As the visitors attempted to run the ball out of their own 22 the pass was intercepted and Brigade took full advantage with a try close to the posts and suddenly the score was not 24-33!
The final 10 mins was almost all Brigade as they strived to get something out of the game. The scrummaging advantage which Kenilworth had enjoyed was being largely nullified by some early shove from the home side and this made clearing the lines difficult for the Ks. One such scrum lead to an attack by BBOB out right but some good tidying-up by Clifford relieved the pressure temporarily. More attacks followed and another surge down the right wing was snuffed out by an excellent tackle form Renowden in what proved to be the final act of the afternoon.
So what can we deduce from the afternoon’s entertainment; first and foremost Kenilworth has players with very high skill levels who work for one another tirelessly. Even though these values are priceless we must strive to eliminate errors which are preventing this side reaching its undoubted potential. A propensity to try to do too much, particularly when taking the ball out from close to our own line is giving our opponents unnecessary opportunities. We are also guilty of not applying the knockout punch (metaphorically of course!) when we have the momentum; too often it seems as if we relax once a lead has been established. Once these issues have been addressed this side will fulfil its enormous promise and there is a perfect opportunity to do this next Saturday at Glasshouse Lane when high-flying Earlsdon are the visitors.
Final Score Boys Brigade Old Boys 24 Kenilworth 33