Stratford upon Avon 35 Kenilworth 9
Kenilworth’s express start to the season came to a shuddering halt at Loxley Road as a depleted side were overpowered by a strong Stratford performance.
Saturday proved the end of a difficult week for Kenilworth as their former Captain and President Geof Jordan had passed away a few days earlier and they were forced to field a weakened side (seven changes) against a Stratford side that had made a strong start to this year’s campaign.
Kenilworth began the game with their customary strong start and the early skirmishes produced a penalty which Hickman converted to give the visitors an early lead but, almost from the restart, Stratford responded in what was to prove a trend for the afternoon. A lineout 25m out was won by the hosts and the ball moved wide and, although Kenilworth looked to have numbers to defend, the gaps appeared and allowed the full-back to score.
Within minutes Stratford added to their advantage as, from an untidy scrum, the open side flanker ran through some poor tackling to score. Kenilworth remained in touch and continued to press for their first try and secured two further penalties due to some fine kicking from Hickman. But the next attack from Stratford produced their third try in half an hour as a break from the centre following a lineout saw him sprint unopposed to the line. The very difficult conversion was made to give the hosts a 21-9 advantage. As the interval approached, Stratford secure their bonus point with a deserved try from the industrious full-back and converting his own score to make the half-time score 28-9. Further changes resulted in Captain James Wadey and prop Sean Burke retiring injured at half-time.
The second half was very much stalemate; Kenilworth continued to try and reduce the deficit but a resolute Stratford defence was equal to all that was thrown at it. Despite all the Ks efforts it was Stratford who recorded the only score of the second period; a break from defence saw the ball moved to within 10m of the Ken line but, despite an advantage in members, some stout Kenilworth defence kept Stratford at bay. Eventually the ball appeared at the base of the ruck and the Stratford tight-head squeezed over for the try.
A 35-9 defeat was a sobering experience for the young Kenilworth side who never gave up playing despite the one-sided scoreboard. The loss of key players before (and during) the game, particularly in the back-row, certainly did not help but Stratford were worthy winners of this local derby.
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