WALSALL 20 KENILWORTH 12
Sloppy Kenilworth in Walsall defeat
Kenilworth suffered a disappointing 20-12 defeat at the hands of relegation-threatened Walsall on Saturday in a match where a number of key players pulled out just minutes before kick off through injury, writes Sophie Freestone.
Harry Kaufman was a late match day call up to the squad as injury cover and made his debut for Kenilworth on a cold and muddy Walsall afternoon.
The opening five minutes saw Kenilworth make their way up to Walsall's 5m line but the ball was lost and the home side were able to clear their lines, before being awarded a penalty on Kenilworth's 22 after the visitors lost a scrum. The simple penalty attempt was wide of the mark, but Walsall were soon back on the attack.
With play in the middle of the pitch, Walsall spotted a huge gap in Kenilworth's defence, and winger John Josh Williams sprinted up the left from 50m out to provide the opening score of the match. The conversion gave the hosts a seven point lead with 15 minutes played.
Despite their impressive start, Walsall were soon down to fourteen men after number eight Jeffery Williamson was sent to the sin bin. In the immediate aftermath Kenilworth strung many phases together deep inside the Walsall 22, but poor handling meant the ball went loose and Walsall regained possession. As the half hour mark approached, play was scrappy from both sides and Kenilworth were unable to make the most of their one man advantage. The closest they came was when scrum half Gaz Renowden thought he'd scored from a kick through but the try was disallowed.
With Walsall restored to their full compliment, a penalty extended their lead to 10 points before Renowden did eventually cross the whitewash. A great run up the middle from number eight Kalum Goodfellow took play up to Walsall's 22 before neat passing from Ollie Burman and Bobby Thompson gave Renowden the ball, allowing him to cross for Kenilworth's first try on the stroke of half time. The conversion was narrowly missed by Josh Hickman to give the home side a five point lead at the break.
With the second half underway, Walsall once again missed another opportunity to extend their lead by three points, before some sloppy defending from Kenilworth left another huge gap on the left for Walsall to attack allowing winger Williams to cross in the corner for his second score of the match. The successful conversion gave the hosts a 17-5 lead with half an hour to play.
There was more sloppy play from Kenilworth as the half continued with poor line outs and handling errors before winger Joe Jepps crept over on 59 minutes after a series of phases in and around the Walsall 22. Hickman's successful conversion closed the gap to five points at 12-17.
As the match entered the final quarter Kenilworth looked to score a potentially match-winning try, but a Walsall penalty with five minutes remaining put the match just beyond Kenilworth's reach as the home side secured their first home league win of the season.