Hickman the master guides Kenilworth to crucial victory
Kenilworth secured their first victory in five matches on Saturday with a thrilling 35-32 defeat of Crewe & Nantwich at Glasshouse Lane, with full back Josh Hickman scoring 25 points from the tee. The victory moves Kenilworth off the bottom of the Midlands 1 West league table as Wayne Morgan’s side look to get their season back on track, writes Sophie Freestone.
The first points of the match came after 10 minutes with the hosts securing a penalty thanks to the boot of Jim Creighton. Their lead was short lived however, as Kenilworth responded just four minutes thanks to a try from fly half Jamie Mapletoft. The hosts made their way up to the Crewe 22 metre line before Hickman broke through a tackle and Mapletoft saw the gap to open the scoring for his side. Hickman’s conversion sailed through the uprights to give the hosts a 7-3 lead.
Crewe hit back almost immediately, with a try on the right wing from flanker Josh Collins who bulldozed his way through the Kenilworth defence to nudge his side into a one-point lead.
That single-point lead soon became an eight-point advantage with powerful winger Tom Roberts shrugging off two defenders for a converted score, and their second try of the match, with just 20 minutes played.
A penalty from Hickman after 26 minutes closed the gap, with the full back adding a second penalty after Crewe were reduced to 14 men with half an hour played. Kenilworth regained the lead after 36 minutes when Hickman added his third penalty to give his side a 16-15 lead. His fourth penalty followed as half time approached, as Kenilworth went into the break with an 11-point advantage.
The second half saw Crewe close the gap to eight points with a penalty after 45 minutes before the visitors scored their third try of the afternoon just three minutes later to reduce Kenilworth’s lead back to just a single point.
Hickman was once again on target after 51 minutes to give his side a four-point lead but Kenilworth were soon down to 14 men when second row Dan Careless was sin binned for offside after 56 minutes.
Despite their one man advantage, Crewe were unable to capitalise on the opportunity pressurise the hosts’ defence with Kenilworth extending their lead after 67 minutes once they had been restored to their full compliment. Hickman’s successful penalty gave his side a seven-point lead before his seventh penalty, from seven attempts, after 73 minutes put his side 10-points ahead with a 35-25 score.
Crewe did not give up however, with the opportunity to secure two bonus points still possible. Their efforts were rewarded in the 77th minute to ensure it was a tense finish at Glasshouse Lane, with flanker Collins crossing for his second of the afternoon. Creighton’s conversion closed the gap to just three points with three minutes to play but Kenilworth held on to secure a much-needed victory.
The Glasshouse Lane side now have 11 points from eight matches and move up to 13th in the league following their victory against Crewe. Their next fixture sees them travel to Dudley Kingswinford, who sit one place above them, on Saturday.
Photos from the match can be found here (please credit Willie Whitesmith):
Highlights of the game can be found on GlasshouseTV - GLASSHOUSETV