Kenilworth were narrowly defeated by 20-18 by Berkswell & Balsall in the 2nd XV Warwickshire Shield final on Sunday, writes Adam Turner.
After two postponements in recent weeks due to the inclement weather, the Warwickshire 2nd XV Shield final was hastily arranged for last Sunday. Kenilworth graciously offered to concede neutral ground advantage, and play the game at the home of their opponents, Berkswell & Balsall, to ensure that the game went ahead.
On what was a pleasant afternoon and a break from the recent bursts of snow, Kenilworth started slowly despite having the slope in their favour. They conceded an early try to their hosts, with the defence unable to plug the gaps in the defensive line quick enough, allowing Berkswell to break through for the first score of the afternoon. The try remained unconverted and was followed by a penalty for a Kenilworth infringement.
However, after hard work in the forwards, a well-worked ball made its way out to Marc Spriggs, who showed his turn of pace and dotted down in the corner for an unconverted try to bring Kenilworth back into the game at 8-5. Spriggs then managed to evade the home defence again a few minutes later, putting Kenilworth into the lead for the first time of the afternoon and ahead at the break at 8-10.
Unfortunately, Kenilworth couldn’t maintain their advantage and soon conceded again to take it to 13-10, before almost immediately managing securing a penalty after Berkswell & Balsall were penalised at the breakdown to level the scores at 13-13. With Kenilworth showing signs of gaining some momentum and a foothold, in no small part due to the dominance in the line out of Dan Careless and the efforts in the forwards of the evergreen Jai Purewal (with a truly dogged and determined 80 minutes that played no small part in dragging Kenilworth back to parity on more than one occasion), Fountaine and Collett, hopes were high. They were soon dashed again, however, when Berkswell & Balsall broke the line once more to score and convert for a 20-13 lead. Collett then capped a fine cameo with a pushover try for 20-18, which sadly went unconverted.
Sadly, Kenilworth then spurned opportunities to kill the game off with missed penalties, in what would have undoubtedly been a famous victory. However, the sheer doggedness shown by the team, and the character to drag themselves back into game on more than one occasion should be applauded. With a bit more luck, guile and a couple of decisions going their way, the story would have been different.
Well done to all involved; both the 1st XV and 2nd XV just need to go one better next season. Finally, a special and heartfelt thanks to all those who made the trip over to B&B to follow the team; your support on the day was greatly appreciated.