Silhillians 23 Kenilworth 30
A good away win for Kenilworth but, as always with fixtures against Silhillians, the result was in the balance until the final minutes, writes Ralph Murray.
The visitors made the early running as Mikkel Andreson featured prominently in the early skirmishes but the game soon descended into a game of aerial ping-pong as both teams looked to avoid mistakes. The stalemate was broken when the Sills winger decided to take a run at the Ken defence but his progress was abruptly halted by Ed Hannam in what was to become the first of a number of key plays by the centre. Gaz Renowden broke from his 10m line and made fully 30 yards before offloading; the ball passing through Josh Hickman and Joe Yeomanson before finding Hector Smith who finished well in the corner for the opening score of the afternoon. Josh Hickman made the difficult conversion look basic and the lead was 0-7.
From the restart Sills were pinned back in their own 22 as Kenilworth looked to capitalise on the early success. Ed Hannam was again in the thick of it as he beat 2 defenders before finding Mikkel Andreson who looked sure to score but the ball was lost forward.
Sills were now stirred into action but, in what was to become a feature of the game, Kenilworth dominated the set-scrum but were inexplicably penalised going forward. Sills looked to take full advantage and launched a series of attacks close to the line but some outstanding defence by Tom Lane denied them. Eventually the hosts worked an overlap and produced a score close to the posts and with a successful conversion the scores were level.
Sills look to break from the set scrum but the chip landed in Gaz Renowden's hand; the 9 chipped ahead and the ball landed close to the 5m line. The ball was well collected by Sam Went before Renowden collected again before passing to Bobby Thompson to touch down.
Another phase of the aerial game followed and eventually it is Kenilworth who took the initiative as captain James Wadey looked to make a break up the right flank. Some neat interplay between the 8, Jai Purewal and Gaz Renowden appeared to have opened up a real scoring chance but the pass was intercepted and the Sills winger brought the scores level right on half time at 14 apiece.
Soon after the restart, Sills were awarded a penalty but the kick was wide and Kenilworth went straight back on the attack and were within inches of the line when the ball found Bobby Thompson who twisted and stretched to score his second of the afternoon. Kenilworth could have gone further ahead but a well-worked overlap was not converted and it was Sills who scored next, a penalty for not rolling away. Josh Hickman responded in kind soon after and the game remained a one-score affair. Ed Hannam continued his stellar day with another blistering run beating two defenders and barging the third to the turf. The ball was recycled well and James Wadey took the ball on before passing to Josh Hickman who scored in the corner. He failed to add the extras and the visitors now had a 10-point advantage as we headed to the final quarter.
Sills pulled 3 points back with a penalty on the Ken 22 but the set-scrum was a real problem for them on their attempt to build momentum. Kenilworth were also looking to add to their total and a series of mauls was halted by a stray boot which looked to have cleared the danger but the ball landed straight into the arms of substitute Jimmy Middleton who ran it back into the fray with interest. The winger was held up inches short but eventually the support told and Bobby Thompson completed his hat-trick in another typically abrasive performance by the back-rower.
Sills went down to 14 at the restart; Mikkel Andreson, attempting to field the ball, had his legs taken out from under him and a yellow card was the result. Despite the loss, Sills pressed again and a chip ahead looked to be covered by Josh Hickman but the ball was spilled and Sills took full advantage with a converted score. Ken's advantage at scrum-time was now nullified by the passive rule but as Sills looked to get on terms the ball was lost in contact and the game finished at 23-30.
Not a faultless display by Kenilworth by any means but loads of positives to take away. Adventure is the first of these: they are playing an expansive and entertaining brand of rugby which will always incur a degree of risk but they are finding ways to compensate.
The piccies are on the Gallery or as a slide show at SILHILLIANS