On a sunny afternoon in North Warwickshire, a diverse 3rd XV arrived at Bedworth RFC snuggled neatly beside the A444. The side ranged from a few very young heads in the shape of Jo Ballinger at Scrumhalf, Olly Brown at loose head and newcomer Lloyd Dixon at open side Wing Forward, followed by ex first teamers in the form of Pete Roberts and Jez Noon at Fly Half and Inside Centre respectively and finally experience in the form of Glen Edney as Captain and No 8, Paul Fountaine and Tim Hunt in the front five along with numerous others. Up against us this afternoon was a heavy well organized pack and an ex Bedworth 1st team wing forward as Fly Half. The game also marked Colin Dick's re-appearance after a number of years out.
Kenilworth started in typical slow fashion lacking fire and aggression. The Bedworth pack were strong in the initial encounters and our lack of low tackling enabled close runners to cut through us like butter. Our pack were struggling to retain the ball in possession, with poor clearing out rucking and so Jo Ballinger at scrumhalf was being given ball under pressure on the 'back' foot rather than creeping forward on the front. Also a few forwards were taking on the ball too far, getting isolated and so giving the ball away in the tackle. The result was a lot of refereeing decisions going against us and 4 or 5 five tries from bedworth as they used their possession very effectively and capitalized on poor defence and poor rucking. Suddenly, however, Jo Ballinger made a beautiful break down the blind side to release a mercurial Right Wing Adam Turner (on loan from the 2's!) to score under the posts, you could visibly see the heads lift in the whole side. This was followed by a darting solo run by the effervescent Jo Ballinger (His surname, of course, from the Great Dynasty of Ballingers, his uncle as usual holding the front row together!), he ran half the field weaving like a dolphin to score again, this was converted by an ever confident Adam Turner. The second half, couldn't have been more different, despite Bedworth being 20 points in front, there was some devastating tackling around the fringes from Olly Brown, Scott Ryan and Ed Newey. Despite being up against a formidable scrummaging unit, the forwards were beginning to deliver quality ball. This enabled the back division to realise their potential and the graceful partnership of Pete Roberts and Jez Noon started to annoy the bedworth defence. With a neat mix of Mark 'Johhno' Johnson at Full back and Rich Hall at Outside Centre, a soupcon of magic was being created behind the pack and there was a renewed belief in the side. So now the likes of Glen Edney, Paul Fountaine and Scott Ryan took the ball on to create a forward going platform for Pete Roberts to score twice, Jo Ballinger and Adam turner to score again and finally the 'infamous' keith Wise to score in the far corner after an old fashioned grubber kick through from . . . . no not a centre but replacement hooker . . . Dickie!, wow a super series of moves had moved us up into the forties, with conversion kicks being shared between Adam Turner and Pete Roberts. However the exhaustion of all this great work, left the back door open for Bedworth to put in 5 more 'opportunist' tries to finally win an epic, 74 to 43.
A great match to witness from the side lines but a more 'fired up' rucking and defensive performance, in the first 20 minutes of the game, would have stopped Bedworth in their tracks and a win could have been the result. This is something that the 3rd team can sort out in the future.