Market Bosworth 34 Kenilworth 48
A glorious afternoon at Cadeby Lane for this Midlands 1 West fixture where the task for the visitors was straightforward – a bonus point win would ensure continued rugby in this flight for the 2014/15 season, writes Ralph Murray.
Kenilworth kicked off but directly into touch and the travelling faithful were hoping that this was not an omen for the afternoon's proceedings. From the scrum, the visitors quickly won back possession with Captain Cresswell making good yards at first receiver. After a number of phases, Kenilworth were within 10m of the line when they were awarded a penalty; Renowden needed no second invitation and a quick tap saw him crash over for the first score of that afternoon. Tyler, deputising for Kendall at 15, was just wide with the conversion so the lead was 0-5 with less than 10 minutes played.
Straight from the restart Kenilworth looked to build on their lead and moved the ball quickly from first phase. One such move saw an opening for Beckett but as the ball was spun out to the wing, the Bosworth wing slapped the ball down and the chance went begging. Almost everyone was now trying to decide whether that slap had been deliberate and what the decision would be but amazingly there was no whistle and play was waved on! The Bosworth winger gathered the ball he had just knocked on and rounded the posts to score – bizarre! The response from Kenilworth was immediate; from the restart they won possession and Renowden found Hannam with a good inside ball. The centre ran hard at the Bosworth defence before a well-timed pass to Beckett who finished in the style that has been on display all season. Tyler adds the extras and the lead was stretched to 7-12. Almost immediately Beckett received the ball again with some room to work and he set off to harry the Bosworth defence and, with only the full-back to beat, looked certain to score - but the defender did just enough to slow his progress and the ball was cleared by the home side.
There now followed a prolonged period of possession for Bosworth where play was almost exclusively inside the Ken 22. After a series of fine defensive efforts the Bosworth 9 spotted his left wing alone and moved the ball quickly to him to score in the corner. Much of Kenilworth's efforts to make progress were being thwarted by continuous encroachment by the hosts at ruck time but it all went unpunished; at such times it is vital for sides to adapt and Kenilworth did just that. Moving the point of attack kept the defence off balance and the combination of short passes and sweeping moves from the backs were making good yards. One such move saw Cresswell take the ball up from a pick and drive and the next pen was spun out wide to Lowthian who took the ball at pace and crashed over for a well-worked try. Another good kick from Tyler stretched the lead to 12-24.
With the bonus point secure, Kenilworth seemed to take their foot off the gas (as has happened often this season) and Bosworth worked the restart through a number of phases to score almost immediately. But another excellent response from Kenilworth produced a quality score; great work by Tyler ripped the ball from the tackled player and presented it for Renowden inside the Ks 22. The ball was well worked through the backs to find Hannam who stepped and shimmied his way past the defenders to score spectacularly under the posts. Tyler both started and finished the move with another successful kick to make the score 17-31 with the half winding down. Still time for another Bosworth attack and again Kenilworth were guilty of carelessness as the winger looked to have made a scoring break but outstanding work from Glover not only stifled the attack but turned over possession as well.
The second half saw the lion's share of possession with the home side and they were soon on the board again; at critical periods in the game, Kenilworth were not as alert as they should have been and, because of this, were unable to establish a commanding lead. Bosworth were again back on the attack and more sustained pressure close to the line eventually produced the overlap for the centre to score. Only a missed conversion allowed Kenilworth to maintain a slender 2-point lead with 25 minutes to go.
Bosworth now had their tails up and were pressing again when another key moment arrived; a speculative wide pass from the home fly-half was well read by Renowden and he gathered the ball and sauntered in from beyond half-way. After another successful conversion, Tyler was involved again almost immediately after the restart; Beckett took the early ball and set off at speed and looked to have done enough but opted for the inside offload to Tyler backing up at pace. The full-back was hauled down juts short but Kenilworth recovered quickly to set up the maul and surged towards the line with Cresswell grounding the ball and just like that the lead had been extended to 29-43 with a quarter of an hour to go.
The next period of play was disjointed to say the least; neither side could establish any rhythm or fluidity to their play and Kenilworth, in particular, were guilty of butchering two good scoring chances. Renowden again looked to have provided the key break and, with the line only metres away, looked to offload but found the Bosworth blind-side. His attempted clearance only found Hannam who opted for the direct route to the line, beating two defenders to score what looked the decisive try. The Bosworth 6 compounded his poor effort by receiving a red card for abusive language to the official. And that might have been that except the home side had won last cameo to show; the winger collected the ball on half-way and saw half a gap to the right which he darted through. Seeing the defenders move to cover his run, he stepped inside and outran the cover to score a very good try under the posts. The missed conversion signalled the end of the game with the visitors winning 34-48.
So, mission accomplished for Kenilworth as they secured Midlands 1 rugby for next season and, at the beginning of the season, that would have been the primary objective but at various times throughout the campaign, the Ks have showed a level of play which belies their current standing. If they can marry consistency with their undoubted talent and close games out when the opportunity presents itself, then the omens for next season look promising.