In the unlikely event that Ludlow, now their only rivals for the third relegation place from Midlands One West, fail to secure one point from their last game, home, against basement-boys Dunlop, and Kenilworth gain five from their visit to Old Halesonians, the Glasshouse Lane crew are set for the drop, after yet another disappointing display at wet and windy Whitchurch. After dominating much of the first half, and with a narrow lead at the interval, they lost their way against a side for whom a maximum points haul ensured their safety (writes Bob Jones).
The game opened in bizarre fashion, with Phil Dickson forced to retire after falling,apparently untouched, with just 30 seconds on the clock, Sam Flowers coming on. A few minutes later, a defensive howler by Catalin Graur in their 22 let in Whitchurch for their first try, unconverted. With the wind offering assistance, and the realization that the Grim Reaper was imminent, the Ks, especially the pack, made an immense effort. This was rewarded with a Simon Tyler penalty goal after a collapsed scrum. Then Nyle Beckett, Tyler and Bobby Thompson embarked on threatening runs, before a remarkable ten-minute spell, during which the visitors were camped in the home 22, battering away at the line. After several penalties, plus a yellow card to one of the Whitchurch props, referee Ben Ward awarded a penalty try, which Tyler duly converted. A mistake by Alex Selby allowed his opposite number Matthews to cross for a try, which fly-half Nicholas converted on 28 minutes. Four minutes later, a positive response from Kenilworth saw them regain the lead courtesy of another Tyler penalty goal, after Whitchurch went offside. More pressure by the Ks led to another penalty award but this time Tyler was off-target with the kick at goal. At half-time, the score was 12-13.
Whitchurch were clearly fired up at the start of the second period, and began to put together a series of moves which rattled their opponents. With elusive full-back Henry Hockenhull in the van of many sorties, a score was sure to follow. The try, after 12 minutes, was unconverted. The retirement of Nick Collett with a leg injury shortly afterwards, Ross Lowthian entering the front row, had a noticeable effect on the stability of the Kenilworth scrummage, which thereafter struggled. Whitchurch were also more effective at the breakdown, with No 8 Robinson a constant threat with ball in hand. The killer blows came within five minutes around the start of the final quarter. With the Ks defence pulled all over the place, and the opposing backs lining up to take the scoring pass, three converted tries, two from centre and captain Gardiner, put the contest well out of reach. The introduction of Rob Bennett, late in the fray, failed to revive fortunes. Indeed, it was a relief for the travelling support when Mr Ward blew for time.
Kenilworth: Muncaster, Cresswell (Capt), Collett, Graur, Nicholson, Dickson, Jenkinson , Thompson, Selby, Sheehan, Clifford, Owen, Tyler, Beckett, Renowden. Replacements: Flowers,Lowthian, Bennett.
Next Saturday (21st April), Kenilworth conclude their league season away at Old Halesonians. Kick-off is at 3pm.