Barkers Butts 18 Kenilworth 20
There’s nothing easy about a trip to Pickford Grange Lane and so it proved in the latest encounter of the ongoing history between Barkers Butts and Kenilworth.
Fresh from an outstanding performance which saw them reach the Warwickshire Cup final, Kenilworth looked to replicate that form in this local derby from Midlands 1 West. The early signs were promising as the visitors, despite the unfavourable conditions, took the game to the Butts and Jones continuing his good run of form scores the opening try in the corner. Against the odds (and a howling cross-field wind), Hickman nails a perfect conversion to gain the maximum return. But Barkers come back with a vengeance and, after a successful penalty, produce a drop-goal on their next incursion to peg the difference back to a single point.
Kenilworth are back on offence and after a probing kick from Hickman, Barkers look to have stemmed the tide but a phenomenal chase from try-scorer Jones hauls the Butts centre down in possession 5m away from his own line. Ks steady the phases and look odds-on to score but the Butts centre, with an illegal 5m start, disrupts the move and play is allowed to continue. But back come Kens with Haynes in the thick of it; Andresson provides the pivot and the ball is moved to within inches of the Butts line. Selby has options both ways but, spying Haynes through a crowd on the blind-side, fires a laser pass to the wing who touches down in a crowd. 6-12 as we head for the half but Kenilworth would feel they should have had more.
The turnaround gives the home side the impetus and they look to get back on terms quickly. After a series of plays where both teams are seeking an advantage, it is Butts who make the early second-half score. Having lost their first scrummage, the hosts fare better on their next put-in and move the ball to the blind side for the winger to score and we’re within a point. But Ken revert to type and use the ball wisely to work the ball into the red zone and, with the maul established, it is the industrious Laney who gets the final press to put the visitors back into the lead. In keeping with the nature of this fixture in recent years, Butts march straight up the pitch from the restart and score near the posts and the conversion puts them 1 point ahead.
After a stoppage for a serious-looking injury to a Butts player, Kenilworth resume the attack and win a penalty 25m out. With points hard to come by, Hickman opts for the sticks and bangs home the penalty to restore a 3-point lead for Kenilworth. Butts now go for broke as they desperately try to get back on terms and win a penalty some 25m out but with the wind becoming ever more unpredictable the kick does not make the required distance. The referee calls time and Kenilworth take the spoils in a hard-fought contest.
Another enthralling contest between these two long-time rivals; disregard the relative positions in the table, this was always going to be tight. Happy to report that despite the “derby” fixture, both teams played with real commitment and sportsmanship to brighten up an otherwise miserable day.