Kenilworth Colts travelled to Old Leamingtonian’s for their annual grudge match against a combined Old Leams/Leamington Colts side missing a handful of first choice players, but still managed to take 23 players over and give everyone decent game time, including supplying a couple of players to the hosts. Final score Ken Colts 38 vs Combined Old Leam/ Leamington Colts 5.
We welcomed back Joe Ballinger, George Harman, Olly Brown and Henry Weston after the National Cup game last weekend and, although I’m led to believe that one or two had had a very late night on the Friday, which may have diminished their performances, their experience served the team well. We started the game with Max Wiggins and Tom Clitherow in the back-row and together with Dan Goode, who all acquitted themselves really well and rewarded all those lads that had trained well on Tuesday with a start to the game.
On a sunny dry day with a slight breeze going down the pitch, Kenilworth pack immediately gained good possession and after a good break down the blindside by Joe Ballinger and a series of good offloading and support, this opened up space for Ed Hannam to exploit for a try converted by Cameron Fisher, back playing at fly-half after his tennis finals. Sloppy defense in the backs then allowed Leamington to run through almost un-contested to bring them back into the game with an unconverted try.
Kenilworth managed to gain good quality ball, but continued to take the ball into contact instead of moving the ball wide and looked a poor side in the ruck, especially in the 1st half. A bright note was the running with ball in hand by Conor Barron, who regularly made great yardage and managed to offload the ball to his colleagues in support. From some quick ball (at last!!), the ball was moved wide to Ryan Hutchinson on the wing, who with space around him, barged through the defense to score another converted try, taking the half-time score to 14-5.
All the lads that hadn’t been on in the 1st half, came on for the 2nd half – this included Will Arnell and Will Field for their first games of the season. I am especially grateful to Jason Ford, who played for the opposition in the 1st half and gave a great showing when he pulled on a Kenilworth jersey in the 2nd half and also to Tom Clitherow and Max Wiggins, who shared the 2nd half for Leamington as well. Without this, we wouldn’t have got a full game in, due to injuries to two Leamington players.
The 2nd half allowed us to put some pace on the game and produce far quicker ball and this resulted in 4 tries, of which two were converted by Cameron Fisher.
Will Arnell was first to touch down following good hands by the backs. The next try by Steve Tomlinson was a tribute to some quality offloading by the forwards and Steve up in support, barged over the line. Dan Rink then added his trade mark try with a barnstorming run, picking the ball up at running at pace at their backs, who didn’t look keen to try to stop him (neither would I!!). The final try was scored by Yan Francis, who had been a menace to the hosts all 2nd half and his clever feet and speed took him over the line.
Several tries went begging through poor finishing, either people not grounding the ball properly, taking a silly option when others were in a better position to score or simply a poor pass/catch at the death. The score could have reflected a heavier defeat, but great credit to Old Leams/Leamington for hanging in there to the end. Their forwards put the Kenilworth scrum under great pressure in the 2nd half and their counter-rucking stole a lot of ball against their static opponents. All in all, a good win, but things can (& will) get better.