Kenilworth Colts travelled to Old Leams to take on the combined Leamington Lions Colts for the second time this season in a pool friendly fixture. The pitch was in excellent nick after all the rain we have had and with the sun shining, it was set up for a game of entertaining rugby.
Kenilworth travelled over with a squad of 24 lads (8 still unavailable for one reason or another) and this allowed wholesale changes to be made at half-time. As is the normal policy, we try to give everyone decent game time, even if it means sometimes disrupting the pattern of the game.
The game started at a good pace, with the visitor’s pack producing fast ball and this allowed the backs space and time to run at the home backs. Nick Prince used his boot to great effect making great yardage and putting the visitors into the right parts of the pitch, from which to attack.
From a ruck on the right, the ball was quickly recycled and Matt Gibson took the ball in the fly-half channel and broke the initial defensive line and handed the ball on to Nick Prince, who drew the full-back and put Will Field in for the first try, which went unconverted – 5-0.
Almost immediately, Nick Prince put in a great kick down the right hand touchline to take Kenilworth just outside the home side 22, and from the line-out the home side try to kick to touch and the ball bounced into Harry Rowley’s hands and an arching run and deceptive pace opened up the whole defence and he touched down under the posts for a try, converted by Nick Prince – 12-0.
A Nick Prince penalty took the score to 15-0. From a blistering start, which looked like making it a very long afternoon for Leamington, errors started to creep into the visitor’s play and the referee, who enjoyed the use of his whistle, continually pinged Kenilworth for string of penalties, mainly offside and ruck offences. This stopped the flow of quick ball and allowed the home side to gain field position for themselves.
From a quickly taken penalty, Leamington worked the ball to the right wing, who went over wide out for an unconverted try. Leamington were now beginning to dominate up front, in both the scrums and loose, where they were both faster and lower than their counterparts and this gave them a steady stream of ball to attack Kenilworth. Some good defensive work by both the back row and some of the visitor’s back kept Leamington at bay, but with their confidence now growing, Leamington scored an absolute belter of a try, with the ball going through many pairs of hands and eventually moved out of contact wide to the right for a converted try, taking the half-time score to 15-12.
The message at half-time was that if we were to win, we needed to cut down on the silly penalties, speed up the game and not get sucked into an arm wrestle.
The second half started off at renewed pace and again Nick Prince used the wind well to get Kenilworth into good positions on the park and a good forward drive over the line resulted in a converted try by Dan Goode – 22-12.
Kenilworth were now moving the ball with precision and intent, stretching the home defence and a wonderful passing movement by Matt Gibson, Cory Joy saw the ball move right in the Leamington 22 and Stuart Budd gave the scoring pass for George Martin to score with a good burst of speed. He managed to get round under the posts for an easy conversion by Nick Prince to stretch the score to 29-12.
To Leamington’s very great credit, they still managed to put the Kenilworth pack under all sorts of trouble, especially in the tight and managed to secure a good quantity of ball, but couldn’t make full use of the wind to get the ball into important parts of the pitch, from which to exert scoring pressure on the visitors.
Kenilworth added a final try from a scrum just outside the Leamington 22 and a fast pick up by No8 Sean Martin and pop to scrum-half Neil Sutherland, who delayed his flat pass perfectly to captain Ed Hannam, who burst through the defence to score a converted try taking the final score to 36-12.
At 15-12 at half-time, Leamington were looking good to potentially beat Kenilworth having scored two good tries, but following a raft of changes and by speeding up the game, Kenilworth won the 2nd half by 21-0. Indiscipline undid a lot of pressure that Kenilworth had created in the first half and the game degenerated into an arm wrestle. Luckily, they realized this and did something about it. Leamington played with real guts and if they had managed to make more of their possession, would certainly have pushed Kenilworth all the way. The visitors must learn from this and adapt a lot quicker to the way the game is going and change their style sooner.
A win is a win and this was Kenilworth’s 9th win of the season. We now turn our attentions to facing Earlsdon away next weekend.