Hard fought Whitchurch match ends in another Kenilworth defeat
It was a familiar outcome for Kenilworth on Saturday as they suffered a courageous 25-12 defeat away to Whitchurch in muddy conditions, writes Sophie Freestone.
Kenilworth continued to show signs of improvement, and were just five points behind with 20 minutes to play, before a yellow card for substitute Matt Gibson allowed Whitchurch to pull away against 14 men in the final five minutes.
The first half set the tone for a physical match and it looked like it could have been a long afternoon for Kenilworth when the hosts took the lead after 11 minutes. Pressure on the Kenilworth 5m line eventually paid off for Whitchurch as their second row smuggled his way over to open the scoring. The conversion attempt was successful to give the home side a 7-0 lead.
The remainder of the first half saw the majority of play take place in the middle of the park with neither side able to build any significant pressure inside opposition territory. Although Whitchurch did breach the Kenilworth 22, the visitors’ defence held firm to stave off the hosts’ attack.
Kenilworth then showed what they are capable of as half time approached with flanker Mikkel Andresen making a superb arching run from outside the Whitchurch 22 to take his side to the hosts’ 5m line. The ball was recycled and fly half Harry O’Brien’s footwork allowed him to step through the Whitchurch defence and score to the left of the posts. Hickman’s conversion and the scores were level at 7-7.
Whitchurch regained the lead five minutes into the second half with a penalty attempt before extending their lead after 52 minutes with a try from their full back who danced through the Kenilworth defence. His conversion gave his side a 10-point advantage.
As with the first half, much of the second forty was played in the centre of the field with few scoring opportunities, but Kenilworth made sure they took the opportunity that came their way. Number eight Bobby Thompson quick-tapped a penalty before embarking on a rampaging run that took him deep inside the Whitchurch 22. Fellow back rower Andresen was on hand to receive his offload and score in the corner. Hickman’s conversion just failed to make it 17-12 with just over 20 minutes remaining.
With the match entering the final five minutes, Kenilworth's replacement hooker Matt Gibson was sent to the sin bin. The resulting penalty all but sealed the victory for Whitchurch before they scored their third try in the 79th minute. Sustained possession in the Kenilworth half took them up to the visitors’ 22 before their hooker scooped the ball up and powered to the line to score. The successful conversion on the stroke of full time made the final score 25-12 to Whitchurch as Kenilworth’s losing streak continues to leave them 18 points adrift at the bottom of Midlands 1 West.
Their next fixture takes place on Saturday as sixth-placed Wolverhampton make the trip to Glasshouse Lane.