KENILWORTH 29 WHITCHURCH 12
Kenilworth returned to winning ways with a deserved win over Whitchurch and there was much to applaud about the performance, writes Ralph Murray.
On a cold but bright afternoon at Glasshouse Lane Kenilworth were looking to kick-start the 2015 campaign with a complete performance against a side which had run them close in the reverse fixture. Right from the off the hosts showed their intent with some probing runs at the Whitchurch defence; Hickman finding a great touch from one such move and winning a penalty at the ensuing lineout. Opting for a kick at goal the normally sure full-back pulled his attempt wide.
Nothing to show from the first forays and now Whitchurch aimed a hopeful kick into the Ks' half but it was poorly fielded and the visitors won a scrum 10m out. After a series of phases the first try of the afternoon went against the hosts, somewhat against the run of play. Whitchurch looked to build on this early success and threatened again before Captain Johnny Cresswell looked to stop the attack with a clumsy tackle and received a rather harsh yellow card. The man advantage soon told as Whitchurch mauled the ball from 5m out and scored their second try for a 0-12 lead.
Despite being a man down, Kenilworth took the game to Whitchurch and enjoyed a prolonged period in the red zone. Eventually the pressure paid off as James Wadey crashed over for the Ks' first points of the afternoon. Back came Kenilworth from the restart and multiple phases saw Mat Gibson break the line from the ruck and, with the full-back to beat, looked set to score but lost the ball in contact. But Kenilworth were now playing with real confidence. It was not only in offensive play that the Ks excelled; Sam Flowers, in a rare appearance, was putting in some great work at the fringes and one hit in particular brought a Whitchurch attack to a grinding halt.
As the half wound down Kenilworth continued to grow in confidence and Johnny Cresswell controlled a good maul close to the Whitchurch line. With the defence in disarray Alex Selby took the ball flat and, seeing a gap, darted through it to score and, with the Hickman conversion, the sides were level at the break.
The second half began at a more measured pace but Kenilworth's attempted progress was often stymied by some questionable defence at the breakdown; the referee finally tired of the repeated infringements and the Whitchurch 8 saw yellow. Now the Ks pressed hard for the lead and after a series of attacking phases close to the line, looked to have scored but a stray hand prevented release. The referee spotted the infringement and the visitors receive another yellow. The ensuing scrum was dropped by Whitchurch and the referee awarded a penalty try.
A period of consolidation now followed but the deadlock was broken by a perfectly-timed interception from substitute Gareth Renowden deep inside his 22. He looked to have the legs on the chasing defenders but some great work by the Whitchurch wing hauled him down. Joe Yeomanson (who had another fine afternoon in the centre) followed up well and took the ball to complete the score (not converted). Whitchurch were now stung into a spirited response and were hurling everything at the K line until Rhys Jones made another fine interception and proceeded up the field with some fine interplay between he and his fellow backs. The ruck was formed just short of the line and the newly arrived substitute Nick Collett saw his chance and touched down for another unconverted Kenilworth score.
With the shackles off, the Kenilworth backs produced some very entertaining play and showed what a depth of talent they have for such a young group. So Kenilworth run out comfortable winners at the end and the 2-score start they gave the opposition might have done for lesser teams but this team has spirit a plenty and their efforts produced their just reward.
Next game: Warwickshire Cup semi final, v Berkswell & Balsall, Sunday 25th at 2.15 @ Old Leamingtonians.