Hereford 45 Kenilworth 10
The final score line doesn’t lie, however it does not give a true reflection of how Kenilworth performed for most of this match. At half time, following a Hereford try just 5 minutes earlier, it was tight at 14-3 and it was only in the final 15 minutes of the match that Hereford pulled away to claim their try bonus point writes Greg Hickman.
This was the third attempt to play this fixture after the original match was called off due to a flooded pitch and the next one was abandoned following an injury to the referee. It was with some relief therefore, that we left a flooded Warwickshire to arrive at a dry and sunny Hereford and a referee who was the right side of 60 warming up!
Hereford had a full strength team out as they continued their drive for a promotion playoff spot, with 4 games still in hand. They had even pulled out of a county semi-final earlier this week to focus on the league. Kenilworth saw Joe Ballinger stepping up from the Cavaliers at scrum half and following a late withdrawal, Will Blundell started in the back row.
Hereford knew that they needed to take the maximum 5 points from this match and this resulted in a frenetic first half. They attempted to run everything, even from inside their own 22 and used their dangerous backs, especially the wingers and full back, to stretch the Kenilworth defence. Therefore it was ironic that their first try came straight through the centres with not a hand laid upon the Hereford try scorer. A successful conversion made it 7-0 to Hereford after 17 minutes. Kenilworth were already down to 14 following a yellow card to hooker Harry Abell for interference at a quick tapped penalty, however a deliberate knock on from the Hereford no. 8 meant there were now just 28 players on the pitch! Kenilworth started to get into the game when a good break by Bobby Thompson supported by flanker Will Blundell made yards. Josh Hickman then kicked into the corner for an attacking lineout! A subsequent penalty from Hickman saw Kenilworth’s efforts rewarded and after 35 minutes it was 7-3. The last 5 minutes of the half were unfortunate for Kenilworth, losing their influential no7, Ollie Burman, to a blood injury following one of his typical, fully committed tackles. There was a subsequent reorganisation with captain BobbyThomson moving to the back row and Charlie Preston coming off the bench to centre. Hereford took advantage as a gap opened in the Kenilworth defence, like the Red Sea for Moses, and scored a try under the posts in the 35th minute.
Hereford have had a tendency to finish games poorly and with Kenilworth still in the match they started the second half optimistically. Unfortunately poor tackling again let Kenilworth down as Hereford scored their third ‘soft’ try to make it 21-3. Credit to Kenilworth though, who once again came back at them. The 2 wingers, Joe Jepps and Jones, took the ball into the Hereford 22, it was recycled to Hickman and the fly half, noticing that Jepps was unmarked out wide, placed a cross field kick over the onrushing Hereford defence. Jepps gratefully took the ball on the bounce to score Kenilworth’s first try. Hickman ignored the unsportsmanlike noise from part of the crowd and converted from 35 metres to make it 21-10.
The next 15 minutes saw both sides trying to exert the upper hand, but more handling errors and penalties being conceded in attacking positions frustrated Kenilworth’s attempts to close the gap on the scoreboard. On 64 minutes, Hereford stirred the scorers following one of their counterattacks which again broke through the middle of the Kenilworth defence to make it 28-10, securing the bonus point. This appeared to be the point where Kenilworth lost some of their intensity and Hereford took advantage running in 3 further tries to end the match 45-10 winners.
After Kenilworth’s win last week this was a chastening experience. However, it must be remembered that this is still a young side with just 3 players over 25 today, up against a team who have real ambitions to make the playoff spot. If Kenilworth can improve their set piece then they have a chance to upset Hereford’s progress back at Glasshouse Lane when they meet again on 2nd April.