Not having played for 3 weeks and having spent a large part of that imbibing and eating, it was great to get back onto the field of play, albeit a soggy one and shake of the Xmas festive cobwebs.
We welcomed our friends from Coventry to the Cow Patch, on a pitch that was remarkably firm and dry considering all the wet weather we have been experiencing. This gave both sides a wonderful platform to play some exciting rugby and that is exactly what both sides managed to conjure up. Kenilworth had the usual list of non-availabilities (11) and still managed to loan two over-age players to the 2nd XV, as both lads will miss the National Colts Cup Plate game against Moseley Colts next week.
Kenilworth welcomed Rob Gardner excelling at hooker, Jack Phillips, deputizing at 2nd row for flu victim, Ben Bosworth and Sam Cullen into the back-row following a rib injury. In the backs, Neil Sutherland made a welcome appearance at scrum-half and Will Field took time out from his studies to shore up the centre of the field.
The game started at a good pace with Broadstreet’s large pack recycling the ball well, the visitor’s strategy of bringing the ball back into the fly-half channel or driving it up the inside-centre channel initially paid dividends. However, an excellent crash ball by centre Ed Hannam and quick hands by Max Wiggins and Cameron Fisher set up full-back Will Arnell to jink his way past the covering defence to score an unconverted try – 5-0.
The visitors continued with their slightly limited game plan and solid tackling by both Cameron Fisher at fly-half and Will Field at inside-centre ensured little progress was made. A missed penalty by Broadstreet, from just outside the home 10 yard line, fell just short, but a knock on gave them good field position. Again solid defence kept the visitors at bay.
Some silly errors crept into the home side play – silly 22 kick-offs and kicks out of hand, which allowed Broadstreet into the game. A clever kick ahead by Ed Hannam and a great chase and follow-up by Ryan Hutchinson and Ed put their full back under pressure and quick thinking and smart footwork by Neil Sutherland allowed him to score another unconverted try – 10-0.
From a line-out in the Broadstreet 22, Jack Phillips darted through and put huge pressure onto the visitor’s scrum half and from the poor pass, Broadstreet fly-half knocked the ball on. From the scrum 5 yards out, No. 8 Sean Martin picked up the ball from the base and drove over for a try converted by Cameron Fisher, making the score to 17-0.
A wonderful break by Ed Hannam allowed George Martin to stretch his legs and show everyone his considerable pace and his run down the right wing was thwarted in the Broadstreet 22, taking the half time score to 17-0.
As is Kenilworth’s usual policy, all the six substitutes came on at half-time and this had a destabilizing effect on our scrummage. With a solid platform, Broadstreet started to move the ball wider to great effect and a missed tackle allowed their centre to score a converted try – 17-7.
Both sides tried to play expansive rugby and the game went from end-to-end with no obvious pattern and this shape was only interrupted by a bout of handbags, which the referee handled with considerable diplomacy. Once both sides settled down to try to play rugby with purpose again, Kenilworth managed to kick the ball downfield and good chasing and follow-up put the visitor’s defence under pressure so that Dan Goode could hack the ball over the line to score a try converted by Cameron Fisher to take the final score to 24-7 to Kenilworth. The visitors threw everything at Kenilworth and gritty defence meant that there were few opportunities for Broadstreet to add to their tally.
There were some notable performances in the forwards from Rob Gardner in the first half, who gave the forwards some real go forward; Sean Martin who appeared everywhere with ball in hand; Max Wiggins, who continues to punch well above his weight in the rucking stakes and most of all Jack Phillips, who although playing in the un-accustomed position of 2nd row, put in a huge afternoon’s work in the boiler room and continually put Broadstreet under pressure. Special mention to Cory Joy, who came on in the 2nd half and gave a seriously gutsy 15-minute cameo of kami-kazi tackling of anything that moved, until concussion and a blood injury forced him from the field.
In the backs Neil Sutherland and Cameron Fisher provided a smooth link to centres Will Field/Josh O’Brien and Ed Hannam, who soaked up everything that Broadstreet threw at them up the central channels and who gave wingers Ryan Hutchinson and George Martin the room and quality ball to exploit the space created. Will Arnell proved solid in defence on top of scoring an excellent try.
Now we turn our attentions to next weekend, where we face Moseley Colts, previous winners of the National Colts Cup, at home in the Plate. We will need to raise our game considerably to stand toe-to-toe with Moseley, but I am confident we have the potential to cause an upset – it will all be in the top two inches and how much we want it!!!