Kenilworth 22 Hereford 40
The original game of two halves at Glasshouse Lane as Kenilworth recover from an abysmal first half performance to score all the points in the second half but penalties and errors prevent them from getting anything out of this fixture, writes Ralph Murray.
Right from the kick-off Hereford signalled their intent with an initial possession which involved 7 phases but all to no avail as some gritty defence from the home side ensured that little or no progress was made. This was a pattern which repeated itself in the opening minutes but eventually the pressure told and the ball was swung wide left to the winger who stepped the final defender to open the scoring. The restart saw the Hereford fly-half attempt an optimistic kick ahead which Kenilworth had well covered and seemed to have a penalty advantage but the decision went the other way and, after a quick tap and go, the centre broke the line to score Hereford's second try and with 10 minutes gone the hosts were down 0-12.
As in previous matches, this lead forced Kenilworth to take the game to Hereford and a series of attacks were halted by multiple infringements which only resulted in a penalty which Kendall slotted to get Kenilworth's account started. Wadey was next to feature with a barrelling run from the restart and made good ground before offloading to Selby supporting well. With limited options the half-back attempted a chip ahead for Beckett but the Hereford centre anticipated well and charged the kick down but Kenilworth were showing much more fight now. Again the home team pressed for more points and again infringements by the defence prevented due progress; eventually the turnover came and the Hereford winger, having received the quick penalty, set off from his 22 and as a result of some woeful defence, and good speed recorded a third try for the visitors and with a quarter of the match gone the deficit had grown to 3-19. The reaction from Kenilworth was swift and direct; more good work from Wadey – who was at the heart of a lot of go-forward ball –gave Beckett a run at the line and looked to have scored but no decision was forthcoming. Strangely the touch-judge and ref conferred to decide it was indeed a score and Kendall banged home an awkward touchline kick to cut the gap to 10-19.
Just as momentum was switching to the home side a harmless looking breakdown outside the Kenilworth 22 saw the Hereford 6 arrive when, without warning, the largest gap seen since the Israelites left Egypt allowed him to stroll in untouched and record the bonus-point try. Worse was to come as Kenilworth appeared to believe that the half-time whistle was imminent but Hereford, building on their momentum and the hosts' poor defence and discipline, scored two further tries and the teams turned around 10-40!
A desperately disappointing performance in the first half had the Glasshouse faithful fearing a deluge – of the scoring kind – in the second half. Not so! Good work and interplay from the restart between Selby, Beckett and Sheehan demonstrated just what progress could be achieved by precision and direct running and after a series of good moves Beckett touched down to begin the fight back. The next period of the game was to prove critical; Kenilworth now attacked unrelentingly and one particular sequence produced a bizarre passage of play. Awarded a set scrum inside their own half, the Ks used their set-piece advantage to move the ball and were repeatedly prevented from further progress by infringements which eventually resulted in a yellow card for the visitors. Still the attack continued as Kenilworth desperately tried to press home the advantage and still the infringements continued; only this time they were now within 10m of the Hereford line. Thomson looked to have secured the touch down but play was stopped and another yellow card was issued and Hereford were down to 13. When a penalty try seemed more than overdue, Kenilworth had to continue to strive for the score which consumed valuable time and energy but eventually the score did come and Thomson scored from the pushover with Kendall adding 2 and the score was now 22-40.
Ks went back on the attack following a great intercept from Sheehan and his attempted pass to Beckett failed to find the target for what looked like a certain score. Play then became ugly for a while and Cresswell, having spotted some "afters" on the Kenilworth 7, was shown a yellow card for his troubles. Nevertheless the next set-scrum saw the Ks take it against the head and moved the ball well to within 10m of the Hereford line but the ensuing lineout was wayward and the chance was lost. As time ran out Kenilworth continued to press but their efforts in the second half failed to compensate for the sloppy performance in the first 40.
With this recent poor run of results the rearranged fixture with Berkswell & Balsall presents an opportunity for redemption but this task must not be underestimated; the last visit was a tough encounter before being postponed so the Ks will have to work hard to get their season back on track.