Silhillians 42 Kenilworth 39
As the score indicates this was not a game short on action but Kenilworth will rue the lapses of judgement which ultimately cost them the game. That's not to say that the home side were not worthy winners; for long periods they were well drilled and their ball retention proved decisive.
The opening period of the game was an emphatic win for the home side; for the first 20 minutes they kept the ball well and limited Kenilworth by playing in the visitors' half. The first-up tackling by the Ks was also poor in this period and Sills made hay from this with only a few minutes gone. a straightforward pass from the base went through the hands and Ks looked to have it covered but the Sills centre spotted a gap and drifted through it with ease to score the first try of the afternoon and the warning signs were there for all to see. Shortly after the restart, Kenilworth showed the effect of resolute tackling as the Sills flanker fancied a run at Glover but the fly-half planted his feet and drove through the man to bring the move to a shuddering halt. Another break from Sills was halted by a good open-field tackle from Thompson and, returning to his feet in a single movement, looked to secure the ball and was unlucky not to win a penalty.
The box kick with the two wings chasing looked to be the preferred option for Kenilworth as they looked to turn a more physical Sills side; one such attempt resulted in a penalty for Ks which Kendall slotted to open the account. But accursedly there now followed one of those moments! Another attack by Sills close to the K line was following a predictable course with the ball moving along the backs but the centre fumbled a straightforward reception and play looked to have stopped. Amazingly no whistle and the Sills wing – to his credit – continued to play and rounded the defence to score under the posts. Frustrating as this was, Kenilworth responded with a wonderful move; Renowden popped up to Glover from the ruck who cuts the line beautifully before offloading to Jenks who showed a good turn of pace. With the line beckoning, the ever present Renowden is there for the return and he drags the defender with him over the line and Ks are back in contention at 14-10.
Infuriatingly history repeats itself as, having taken back the initiative, Kenilworth are slow to respond following a score of their own and Sills take the restart and move the ball against some poor defence and stroll in for their third try. Kenilworth were trying hard to keep in sight and looked to move everything but the ball was being slowed down without sanction and matters were being taken into players hands before the ref brought proceedings to a temporary halt. With Sills regaining possession and the half winding down – another worrying trait for Kens this season – poor concentration allows a simple 2-on-1 and the half closes out with a bonus point try for the home side.
The second half begins with a surging run from Sheehan who puts Beckett away but, ironically, the slightest of knock-ons foils the attempt. Beckett again involved as he takes a great pass from Thompson but receives a clothes-line tackle for his troubles – amazingly a penalty is deemed sufficient punishment! Again the Glasshouse speedster is involved as he chases a box kick from Renowden and takes the Sills 15 in possession; full back does well to get the clearance away but Ken are 5 m out with the lineout. The throw is fumbled and another good chance goes begging. Redemption is not slow in coming. Kendall spurns a shot at goal to put the ball out 5m away and this time the lineout works as planned. Some close quarter drives eventually gives Thompson a sniff and he scores. Kendall nails a beauty of a conversion and its 28-17. Things continue to improve for the vistors as again Beckett chases the high ball which the Sills 15 misjudges and Renowden – again – wins the foot-race too score. Almost immediately Kenilworth retake possession and Hickman sets Jones away and the wing forward smashes over and its now 28-27 – ridiculous! Next attack sees Renowden find Lane in space who makes ground before finding Beckett who dances his way through the defence and Ks lead 28-34 after another good nudge from Kendall.
Again Sills responded by throwing everything at K's in an attempt to claw back the initiative. Kenilworth stand up to the pressure well and relief comes in the form of a penalty, but with still 10 minutes to go Kenilworth have much to do to see the game safely out. Help comes in the form of a yellow card reducing Sills to 14 men as a consequence of an early 'hit' on a Kenilworth player.
At this point it would seem to make good sense to play 'keep ball' but Renownden has other ideas as he chases his own box kick and his efforts are rewarded when a kind bounce falls back into the arms of the No 9 who touches down for K's to lead 28-39 with 5 minutes to go. Game won?.....you would have thought so. However Sill's bounce straight back on the attack throw everything at the Kenilworth line. Despite desperate efforts by Kenilworth their defence was breached and the Sill's wing crossed to give Sill's hope of 'snatching' a win they most probably deserved. The conversion was good ensuring that the final few moments of the game would be fraught for Kenilworth – now 35-39!
From the kick off Sill's came storming back and make considerable ground working the ball through their big ball carriers. A penalty against Kenilworth was quickly taken and again Sill's crossed to score a converted try.
Now it became Kenilworth's turn to throw the sink at Sill's and at one point hopes were raised when it looked like Beckett might break towards the Sill's line but Sill's defence held strong. Not long after the final whistle is blown and the 'ding dong' battle went to Sillhillians.
Whilst on reflection Sill's may be deserved to win the game, Kenilworth will be disappointed that having clawed their way back to take an 11 point (two score) lead with only 10 minutes or so to go – they failed to see the game out.