After a late pitch inspection by both captains and the referee the teams headed to the billiard ball table surface of the Cowpatch for 80 minutes of mud wallowing. The Kenilworth side had a good blend of youth and experience if a little lightweight up front which didn't augur well due to the conditions underfoot. However both sides tried to play as much rugby as possible and despite the inevitable handling errors and struggles with kicking out of hand and placekicks, the game was fast, physical and not short of skill.
Kenilworth opened the scoring when after some accurate rucking and possession play, young tyro Tommy Jones slid over in the corner – Newbold kindly offered loan of their kicking tee (note to management – need to bring kicking tee and more than one match ball!) however this was to prove helpless as Kenilworth's kickers couldn't hit a barn door all afternoon!
The next try mirrored the first with Matt Jenkins barreling over in the opposite corner again after good work from Hadwin and his forward runners who kept the Newbold defensive line on the back foot for much of the match.
Newbold also looked dangerous when keeping the ball tight but lacked the necessary composure when the try line beckoned. They had dominance in the scrum and this was causing the Kenilworth defence line to work increasingly hard at stemming the flow – Michael Jones and Ed Rogers in the back row were tireless and Matt Gibson and his front row colleagues were doing all they could in the mauls to disrupt the momentum. Newbold finally broke through just before half time and the try was converted using a different tee (obviously gave us the broken one!)
Half time saw a couple of changes with Ballinger, Rhys Jones and the ever youthful ginger ninja Jez Noon taking the field. Kenilworth upped the intensity in defence and this caused the Newbold runners to spill numerous balls in the tackle area and a number of dropped passes. The Cavaliers capitalised on this and fly half Gorgeous George Trafford started to cut a swathe through the retreating red and black defensive line. Rhys Jones cantered over for a great try on the right wing to make the score 15-7. The ever dangerous Adam Clifford belied the heavy going and counter attacked from deep – he ignored the old adage of running straight and ran around the Newbold defenders and crossed for a great individual try. 20-7
Another youthful replacement in the svelte form of Dom Carrick joined his hard working pal Ian Phillips in the pack and this gave the Kenilworth half backs another ball carrier to put Newbold increasingly on the back foot.
After a great steal in the maul by Matt Gibson, Trafford took the ball on and offloaded to Carrick, who with a 3 man overlap outside him, took the sensible option of a dummy. He was tackled well but atoned for his indiscretion by deftly offloading to the ginger ninja Noon who had finally caught up with Carrick's electric burst. Noon carried 3 defenders over to score an excellent try – again the kick was pathetically missed 25-7.
More attacking play saw George Trafford dance his way over for a try to make it 30-7. This made up for his disastrous offload later when he had both Wylie and Carrick in support ready to stroll over the line.
With night approaching and the water rising Newbold showed terrific spirit to attack the home line in the closing minutes – no doubt assisted by the incessant chatter of their right winger who didn't shut up all day!! From a scrum close in the number 8 drove over for a converted try, brushing off the attentions of the youthful Kenilworth back row who were no doubt already thinking of the night ahead in Leamington.
Overall a good performance in testing conditions with both sides trying their hardest to play as much rugby as possible. Eventually Kenilworth probably had a bit too much firepower out wide with ex Italian international pasta muncher Marco Stanojevic and Jimmy Middleton proving to be a solid pair of centres in the mud. The wily old Fox (y) at full back showed some rare defensive grunt as well as a unique way of clearing upfield via a volley.
Kenilworth Cavaliers now have 2 or 3 matches to build momentum before the Warwickshire 2XV Cup semi on February 9th.