Kenilworth Colts took on mighty Moseley Colts in the National Colts Cup Plate on Saturday with a team selection showing only 3 substitutes, primarily because of some injured or ill players, but mainly brought about by the non-appearance of hooker Matt Gibson. This meant that the team had to be radically re-drafted just prior to kick-off and was certainly not the smooth preparation needed to take on such opponents, who have been previous winners of the National Colts Cup. Jason Ford stood in to the hooker position, with Steve Tomlinson coming in to prop. With 2nd Row Ben Bosworth also unavailable due to the after effects of flu, Dan Goode kindly elected to fill the breach in the 2nd Row with Sam Cullen coming into the back row.
Neil Sutherland, fresh from his morning school game came in at scrum-half and Josh O’Brien added his experience in the centre, covering for Will Field who had exam fever.
The pitch was very heavy from all the recent rain, but it was good enough to allow both sides to throw the ball around and produce an absolute cracker of a game, which produced 11 tries. By the end of the game, the pitch had certainly taken its toll on some weary lads.
The home scrum was immediately put under some pressure by the visitors, which created a series of penalties and from this platform, Moseley recycled the ball several times and quick ball allowed their right winger to score under the posts for a converted try – 0-7.
Kenilworth picked up the pace and some determined driving play by Sean Martin, Dan Goode and James Ray gave the home side possession inside the Moseley 22 in the form of a 5 metre scrum. From this Sean Martin picked up from the base and popped the ball up to Ed Hannam, who crashed over for an unconverted try – 5-7.
Kenilworth were awarded a penalty as a result of some altercation as Ed was scoring his try and from the ensuing penalty, the home side kick the ball deep into the Moseley half and from the line-out, Kenilworth gain possession and quick recycling allowed Ed Hannam to burst through the centre to score another unconverted try – 10-7.
Moseley immediately tightened up their game and some flaky tackling allowed them to get some momentum and from this, the visitors added another converted try to take the score to 10-14.
A silly penalty gave Moseley another platform once they kicked deep down the left wing and a missed clearance allowed the visitor’s left wing to score out wide for an unconverted try - 10-19.
Kenilworth now had to dig deep to stop the game running away from then and it was vital that the home side got the next points on the board. Captain, Ed Hannam, then added his 3rd try with another barnstorming run and the conversion by Cameron Fisher took the half-time score to 17-19 – all to play for.
Josh O’Brien came off with a dead leg and this enforced some changes to bring Ryan Hutchinson into the centre, Will Arnell onto the wing and Stuart Budd into full-back. The good news was that Kenilworth had a good wind at their backs and both half-backs used this to good effect making good territorial gains to keep Moseley pinned back. Kenilworth were then to lose Sean Martin to a tackle off the ball, which resulted in a yellow card being issued to the Moseley victim. Sadly this robbed Kenilworth of their primary lineout resource and a driving force in the forwards, so the loss was greater than just losing someone for 10 minutes. Cory Joy came on in the back row to replace Sean.
Kenilworth immediately made the extra man count and Ed Hannam hacked the ball through to score his 4th try of the game, which was converted to take the home side into a 24-19 lead.
Sam Cullen was the next Kenilworth player to have to leave the field with a bad cut under his eye and Tom Clitherow came on to the back row. Some silly penalties gave Moseley field position and from a scrum just outside the home 22, Moseley attacked the blind and a missed tackle allowed their right wing to scramble over for an unconverted try to even the score at 24-24.
It was never easy to kick in the windy conditions and a penalty on the 22 just drifted wide, but soon after, Will Arnell, with some very clever footwork, hacked the ball over the line for an unconverted try to take Kenilworth back into the lead again – 29-24.
There remained about 6 minutes and could Kenilworth keep their noses in front? All the lads were giving their all, with many playing out of position and the substitutes cupboard bare. There were walking wounded all over, but still the lads put their bodies on the line. It was now end-to-end stuff with both sides throwing everything to get that vital score and it was Moseley who managed to nose ahead with a converted try under the posts 29-31.
A penalty would still be enough to win the game for Kenilworth and all the lads put in a huge effort to gain that vital score, but in the process of throwing people forward, this allowed the visitors space to score another converted try to take the score to 29-36. A converted try would still do it, but the game finished with both sides slumped on the floor out of sheer exhaustion.
What a fantastic effort from Kenilworth and such a cruel ending. They were in front with 6 minutes to go and the (energy) cupboard was empty with no more fresh legs that could be brought on. All the lads should be hugely proud of themselves, for putting in a huge afternoon of graft in difficult circumstances. They should never have been put in this position and let down by a “team mate” and it only makes it more frustrating that this was a game that could and should have been won. You don’t get that many chances in life to take a real big scalp, but this was that chance and the lads won’t forget it in a hurry. We wish Moseley well in their next round, but we will always think back on this with a “what if…….”!!