BARKERS BUTTS 18 KENILWORTH 20
Kenilworth recorded a win against a Barkers Butts who belied their lowly league position with a superb performance, a very late penalty from Josh Hickman securing the points for Kenilworth, writes Willie Whitesmith.
The game kicked off with a bitterly cold strong wind in Barkers favour. Barkers were looking to use their big wind advantage but it was Kenilworth who struck first with Gareth Renowden, playing in the centre, starting a good move and feeding the ball out to Arthur Haynes on the wing. He fed Ed Holmes who in turn fed Josh Hickman hitting the line. The full back could have scored but unselfishly fed Rhys Jones for a score in the corner. The conversion was into the wind and the 'wrong' shape for Josh Hickman but somehow he contrived to place it between the posts and Kenilworth had a 7-0 lead after five minutes. Barkers then came back strongly and on eight minutes a penalty reduced the arrears to 7-3. They were now using the strong wind well and after a period on the Kenilworth line, with Kenilworth defending well, the No10 elected to take an easy three points with a drop goal and after ten minutes the lead was reduced to 6-7. Both teams were now playing well, given the conditions, but it was Kenilworth who made the next breakthrough close to half time when, a period of sustained Kenilworth pressure ended with captain Mikkel Andreson breaking the line and finding winger Arthur Haynes to score in the corner. The conversion, into the teeth of the wind, was not successful and the referee called time at 12-6 to Kenilworth.
The big Kenilworth support thought that the second half, with the strong wind, would be a bit of a cantor but Barkers had other ideas and almost the entire half was spent with Kenilworth defending and not managing to use the wind to their advantage. After 47 minutes the Barkers pressure finally told. Kenilworth had defended a 5m scrum well but the re-set scrum was won by Barkers who worked the ball blind for an unconverted score in the corner and a 12-11 score-line. This Barkers score sparked some life into Kenilworth and in almost their first venture into the Barkers half the forwards established a platform for second row Tom Lane to pounce on the ball and an unconverted score for Kenilworth. 17-11. Surely now Kenilworth would use the wind to their advantage thought the away support but no, Barkers had other ideas, and almost immediately from the re-start they secured possession for a good score and conversion close to the posts and the lead 17-18! Kenilworth were now under the cosh and Barkers were now looking the more likely to extend their lead. However the occasional Kenilworth sorte into the Barkers half gave some hope. The pressure on Kenilworth told on 72 minutes when Barkers were awarded a kickable penalty. There was however a long delay as a Barkers player who was involved in the move was treated on the pitch and subsequently stretchered off. The delay surely affected the Barkers kicker who missed the very kickable kick wide and this was to prove crucial in the final outcome of the game. Kenilworth were now desperately trying to rescue the game and they were awarded a kickable penalty some 25m out but, crucially, with the wind. Josh Hickman nailed it and Kenilworth had regained the lead with the referee calling five minutes remaining. It was now Barkers turn to try and rescue the game but Kenilworth were playing sensibly and keeping them out of their 22. However, the drama was to continue right to the end when Barkers were awarded a kickable penalty straight into the teeth of the wind. With no time remaining they elected to kick for goal but the kick fell short for Gareth Renowden to collect (and knock on) and the referee called time on an exciting game.