A local derby away to Leamington saw Kenilworth 3XV play their first game of the season in glorious sunshine.
17 players signed in for duty to re-appointed manager Tim Hunt. A few recent additions to the newly named Kenilworth Roundheads saw Adam Turners brother Mark and Big Will (Daine) on the starting 15 giving the 3VX a slightly lower average age than in previous years. Given the number of shaven heads perhaps Baldheads may be more apt.
The game kicked off at 15.00 with both teams looking well matched. Leamington tried to make a few early runs to our try line but some great tackles put in by Ciaran Bailey put a quick end to any thing that looked dangerous. After 10 mins Ks pack now looked like they had finally warmed up despite 27degrees from the off.
With Gary Coulter and Moony taking some crash balls into Leamington’ forwards and securing their 22 suddenly changed the game. Going to ground, Leam found it difficult to keep their hands out of our rooks which saw a number of penalties awarded in our favour. Kicking duties being left to Ciaran, he couldn’t quite find the touch line in the fist few which saw the ball back into play and being pushed back to our halfway line.
The initial back line of Mark Johnson - (9) who incidentally was well behaved through the game, Ciaran (10) Adam Turner (11), Jacek Bukowski (12) Ed Newey (13) Mark Turner (14) and Yann (15) started to look dangerous. Winning our scrum, Johno spun the ball right to Ciaran who made several dummies and side steps to get the ball out to Jacek, Ed and finally Adam Turner leaving him about 15m left to run for the first try in the game.
Typical of Kenilworth’s kit supplies, no kicking T meant poor old Ciaran had to make do with the little turf he could kick out of the solid ground, just missing the posts for the first conversion of the day.
25 mins into the game saw Leamington a little rattled, utilizing perhaps their greater strength in the pack score the next try, fortunately for K’s missing their conversion to.
Not happy with this, Ks were back on a mission to get some more points on the board. Several attempts from Paul Fountain and a charge from Big Will, did not quite make it but put the ball in the oppositions half. The ball taken into a rook on a 2nd phase saw Scrum Half duties quickly picked up by Mr Marsh who managed to get the ball out to Jasec on the blind side of play (not bad for a forward to play off his opposite side) . Jacek making ground and taking contact just before Leams 22, but managing to pass the ball out to Mark Turner who showed a turn of speed far greater than Adams making it 10-5 up. ( A Usain- Blake rivalry!) -A missed conversion again still meant score was too close for comfort.
With what could be described as a game of 4 halves saw Kenilworth slip back on the score board over the next 2. Both our forwards and backs making school boy errors through a lapse of concentration and a number of missed tackles was just enough for Leamington to take advantage. Wisey coming on at 14 and Mark Turner going into 13 still could not change the score. Perhaps the heat taking its toll on a number of players the ref called a 5 min break with 20 mins to go- giving Tim Hunt a chance to make a few further changes.
Poppet picking up 11, Cairan at 15, Wisey at 7 seemed to change things a little although Leam did squeeze in one last try in the first few mins of the re-start. Jacek perhaps needing wing mirrors when retreating to cover a ball in second gear saw their winger zip by him and several others in 5th gear-, leaving Poppet to make a chase from the opposite side of the pitch to make a tackle at the try line. The ref awarding the try as the ball was just touched down.
Thereafter Ks were back in Leams 22 for the rest of the game, making several attempts to get one last try but to Leams credit put up some stiff defence. In all everyone put in 100% effort and should not be too disheartened with the final result. A bit more match fitness in the player’s legs will see a vast improvement over the next few months.
Man of the Match – Mark Turner