Shipston on Stour 5 Kenilworth 66
An emphatic win by the league leaders and the reaction to the few errors that were made says much about the intent of this group of players.
A glorious spring day at Shipston augured well for a running game and the ground staff had clearly worked hard to get the pitch into a playable condition. Kenilworth welcomed back some key players for this fixture and after the heroics at Old Laurentians it was important to maintain that momentum during the final games of the season.
The game got off to a brisk start with both sides retaining the ball well without either offering any real threat. All that changed on the quarter-hour as Kenilworth advanced to the home 22m and quick ball found Thompson at second receiver and good hands between him and Middleton looked to have put the winger away. Tackled just short, the ball was quickly recycled and moved wide right where more good hands saw Holton go over in the corner for the first points of the afternoon. Kendall, continuing his good season’s form, added the awkward conversion to make the score 0-7. As so often this season, Kenilworth followed an initial score with a rapid follow-up; good work from the restart saw Ks in a good attacking position inside the 22m and captain Cresswell carried strongly to get within 2m before being held up. Again the recycling was prompt and Sheehan found Tyler who scored on his return to 1stXV duties; an easier conversion was added by Kendall and a big score looked on the cards.
The early caution was now discarded and Kenilworth were playing with a real fluency and the confidence of a team in full flight. Tyler, who was into his stride very early, made a great line break and drew the 15 well before putting Gibson in under the posts. The flanker was not done yet; Kenilworth were awarded a penalty just inside their own half and Gibson, seeing the defence out of position, took a quick tap and set off only to be tackled early. Full marks for persistence as Gibson repeated the move but this time fended off some poor tackle attempts to score his second in almost as many minutes!
28 unanswered points in the first half and a try-bonus point already in the bag suggested that the league leaders might relax in the second half; it was not to be. Almost from the first attack of the half, Renowden darted off the base of the set scrum to score a fine solo effort and things looked ominous for the home side. But the next score was theirs; some sustained pressure in the Ks 22 saw the ref play a prolonged advantage which was not needed when the Shipston winger scored in the corner.
Any hope of a revival was quickly dashed as Sheehan again found Holton who, running a great line off the set scrum, crashed over for his second. Another score courtesy of Number 8 Thompson on his return added further misery to the home side and they weren’t done yet. Good chasing by Beckett saw him collect a hopeful kick ahead and, faced with two defenders, decided to take the long way round and beat the defence with blistering pace to score under the posts. A bizarre score at the end of the game; another dart down the right by Beckett looked to have been stopped but his attempted pass inside struck a defender and the ricochet found Lane who scored unopposed.
So, a polished performance with only a few errors; but even these few blips were greeted with discontent. This is a great sign for the remaining games as the side is not resting on its laurels but pushing ever harder for the perfect game. Tougher tests lie ahead but winning is infectious and this performance puts Kenilworth on pole going into the final quarter of the season.
Kenilworth: Lowthian, Cresswell, Dodd, Lane, Nicholson, Gibson, Todd, Thompson, Renowden, Sheehan, Tyler, Holton, Middleton, Beckett, Kendall
Subs: Flowers, Collett, Selby