STOKE 10 KENILWORTH 3
A much changed Kenilworth, with two teenagers making their first XV debut, another on the bench, and 22 yr old James Nichol also making his debut on the wing just failed to take the spoils at Stoke but the spirited display ended with a losing bonus point, writes Willie Whitesmith.
Kenilworth kicked off assisted by a strong, cold, wind. It was Stoke who took an early lead with a successful penalty, aided by the post. The game progressed with Stoke on the offensive but good defence by Kenilworth kept the score at 0-3. Kenilworth were now starting to come into the game and creating chances which were not being taken. The pressure eventually told and fly half Harry O'Brien, aided by the wind struck a very long range penalty against a post. The ever alert Rhys Jones pounced on the ball and aided by Hector Smith caused Stoke to infringe and Harry O'Brien had the easiest of tasks to level the scores at 3-3 with 25 mins played. Both teams were now creating scoring chances but silly mistakes, caused by the cold wet conditions, and good defence, prevented any scores. One Stoke attack broke down and Harry O'Brien took the opportunity to send a long thunderous kick to the Stoke 5m line. From the ensuing lineout Kenilworth won a scrum but then conceded a penalty which Stoke took with a quick tap and ran the length of the pitch for a converted score and a 3-10 lead. Stoke were now pressing at every opportunity and Harry O'Brien was busy with his long range clearance kicks. The half closed at 3-10 with Kenilworth having had chances but with no real reward for their efforts and Stoke taking their only real try scoring chance.
Stoke started the second half with real intent and had Kenilworth on the back foot, mostly electing to kick for touch on the many penalties they were awarded. On one occasion Kenilworth did well to win Stoke's lineout but then proceeded to lose possession. This resulted in a rather harsh yellow card for Tom Lane for what the referee called a deliberate knock on. Stoke continued to dominate but Kenilworth were beginning to come into the game, defending well and, notably at scrum time, with centre Ed Hannam performing well in Lane's absence in the second row. Stoke's frustration was typified by a long drop goal attempt which went wide. With twenty minutes remaining Kenilworth sensed they could score and were now dominant in the scrum however Stoke were still dangerous on the break and they won a kickable penalty which went wide. With five minutes remaining player coach Jonny Cresswell took the field in place of James Jackson. However try as they did Kenilworth could not break down the Stoke defence and the game finished with Kenilworth camped on the Stoke line but unable to penetrate it for a pointless second half.
In the end this was a decent result for Kenilworth with such a young squad on show with the debutants James Nichol, Tommy Jones and Hector Smith all showing well.