KENILWORTH RUN OUT OF TIME IN NARROW BRIDGNORTH DEFEAT
Kenilworth left things just a little too late on Saturday, as they suffered a 27-22 defeat to table-toppers Bridgnorth at Glasshouse Lane. Their five-point loss earned them a losing bonus point to ensure that they remain seventh in the league, writes Sophie Freestone.
The home side started the brightest with a great break from full back Jamie Mapletoft inside the opening two minutes, which was followed by a kick chase from winger Rhys Jones, who appeared to be held up off the ball.
Kenilworth's strong start to the match continued, with an excellent flat pass to flanker Mikkel Andresen, allowing him to take play inside the Bridgnorth 22 before the ball was unfortunately lost.
Despite Kenilworth playing well in the opening minutes it was Bridgnorth who took the early lead with a penalty after 10 minutes. They soon extended their lead with a try from full back Simon Fletcher who crossed on the left wing but touched down under the posts, allowing for a simple conversion to give the visitors a 10-0 lead with less than 15 minutes played.
Kenilworth were then down to 14 men following a tackle that was deemed to be late from flanker Ollie Burman. It wasn't long before Bridgnorth made the most of their one man advantage, despite some excellent defence from Kenilworth that initially prevented the visitors scoring from close range on the right wing. The pressure eventually paid off for Bridgnorth, with a converted try to give them a 17-0 lead just shy of 20 minutes.
Kenilworth dug deep however, pulled back seven points despite being down to 14 men. A well worked attack from Kenilworth allowed captain Bobby Thompson to cross on the left, with the conversion successful from Josh Hickman, to close the gap to 10 points mid way through the opening forty.
With the home side restored to 15 men, Kenilworth kept up the pressure on Bridgnorth. They gained an excellent field position following a great counter attack that took them inside Bridgnorth's 22 following a kick chase from scrum half Alex Selby.
Bridgnorth soon extended their lead to 15 points with the half coming to a close, however, after a scrum deep inside Kenilworth's 22 was pushed back, allowing them to score a try from short range. In the windy conditions, the ball blew off the tee just before it was to be kicked and great pressure from Hickman meant the drop conversion was charged down to prevent a seven point score, to leave the visitors with a 22-7 half time lead.
With the second half underway, it was again Kenilworth who started more brightly, with a great break from Will Blundell making some excellent ground before he was unfortunate to be penalised for a knock on. The home side were soon back in the game however, with a fantastic kick over to the right corner from Gaz Renowden bouncing perfectly for Joe Jepps to touch down on 43 minutes. Hickman's successful conversion reduced Bridgnorth's lead to 22-14.
A fourth try from Bridgnorth secured a bonus point for the visitors, with a kick through easily touched down in the right corner. They couldn't add the extras however, but their lead was a healthy 27-14 with thirty minutes remaining.
The next 20 minutes saw a period of real pressure from Kenilworth as they closed in on Bridgnorth's 13-point lead. Some excellent work in the set piece included a superb re-steal in the line out from Burman when it appeared that Bridgnorth had stolen possession themselves. A third try followed after 64 minutes with Joe Jepps collecting a loose ball on half way to run half the length of the pitch and score his second try. The conversion was only just wide, before Hickman was once again on target on 72 minutes with a long range penalty from out wide to ensure a tense finish to match with the score at 27-22 to Bridgnorth.
Kenilworth continued to pressurise the Bridgnorth defence in the closing minutes but couldn't quite cross the whitewash. Despite the defeat, it was a strong performance against the league leaders from the Glasshouse Lane outfit, who now travel to Staffordshire to face fifth-placed Burton.
Pics available at BRIDGNORTH PICS