KENILWORTH 3 STRATFORD 8
In a dour struggle on a very wet pitch Kenilworth succumbed to their second defeat of the season against Stratford, both sides, notably Kenilworth in the latter stages, surprisingly scorning numerous kickable penalty opportunities that would have sealed the game, writes Willie Whitesmith.
Continuous rain prior to the kick off meant wet conditions with many pools of water lying on the pitch but the referee was happy that the game could proceed. Kenilworth started the game well and were looking dominant in the scrum and were pressing in the Stratford half only for the final pass to go astray or forward when a try looked likely. Stratford were now starting to come into the game and were now winning not only their own line-out ball but Kenilworth's to. On fifteen minutes the Stratford pressure eventually told when they won a penalty which they kicked to the Kenilworth 5m line. From the resulting line-out a catch and drive produced the opening score from ex Old Leamingtonians open-side Liam Jones. The try was not converted and it was 0-5 to Stratford. Kenilworth again began to exert themselves through the scrum and an almighty shove marched Stratford 15m backwards but again the chance, and subsequent chances, went a begging. Kenilworth continued to lose line-outs and new head player coach Jonny Cresswell, brought himself on and immediately ruffled a few Stratford feathers. However the half ended with defences on top, but many chances created by both sides.
Kenilworth made further changes at the start of the second half when Ed Holmes replaced the injured Ed Hannam in the centre.
The second half opened in a similar fashion with Stratford looking the more likely to score but errors aplenty from both sides. Kenilworth were now winning their fair share of line-out but during Stratford's early pressure Kenilworth's second row Ed Rogers received a yellow for what the referee indicated to be persistent off-side. Kenilworth's cause was also not helped when influential prop, Ross Lowthian, had to retire with a dislocated finger. Despite being down to 14 Kenilworth began to sense they could win the game and on fifty minutes their scrum dominance continued, winning a penalty out wide which full back Josh Hickman casually slotted for a 3-5 score-line and game was on. Both sides were now looking to win the game and following a series of Stratford penalties, mostly kicks to line-outs, the Stratford stand off took an easy opportunity to extend the lead to 3-8 with fifteen minutes remaining. It was Kenilworth's turn to dominate the closing period and they were offered many opportunities to close the gap and take the lead from the many penalties conceded by Stratford but chose the kick to the line-out option instead. Only one real chance was created when winger Joe Yeomanson almost made touch in the corner only to be tackled into touch. The game ended with Kenilworth putting in an almighty shove on a Stratford scrum only for the referee to penalise them for their good work.
A disappointing result for Kenilworth in a game they really should have won. In what was always going to be a low scoring game points on the board are vital and perhaps the penalty opportunities offered should have been converted. Next up is Walsall away on 10th Jan.