Kenilworth Colts 19 – 19 Old Halesonians Colts – AWAY
16th March 2013
Kenilworth Colts travelled over to Old Halesonians with just 16 players, to take on a side that they had beaten 7-5 at home earlier in the season. The team had a much-changed look about it, following a raft of injuries (some self-inflicted) and the usual bout of late cry-offs, presumably with one eye on the 6 Nations!
The team experimented with scrum-half Joe Ballinger having a long-awaited run out in the centre and Jason Ford playing at hooker for the injured Matt Gibson, who had a toe operation earlier in the week. A strong and mobile back row of Max Wiggins, Cory Joy and Dan Goode, complimented by Jack Killian coming on at half-time, would have a lot of work to do against a much larger home pack. Will Field played in the unaccustomed position on the wing and did well to keep his hands warm enough in the cold.
The Old Halesonians team were a very mature Colts side, with very few U17s in it and were an enormous team, which by nature dictated how they were going to play the game. The pitch conditions were positively aquarian as standing water lay in puddles all over the pitch and a burst of rain in the first half, ensured that the wall was wet and greasy. This played into the home sides hands as they were determined to play a very tight forward-oriented game and not spread the ball very wide at all. This meant that Kenilworth were going to have to dig very deep and go toe-to-toe all afternoon with this monster pack and following last week’s limp display against Southam, things didn’t look too promising as Old Halesonians scored two converted tries in the first 10 minutes.
This was going to be a very long afternoon, being 14 points down so quickly. The side could have capitulated as in the previous game, but these 16 lads were made of sterner stuff and to a man, they dug very deep and produced a huge performance, to not only keep out a much more mature side, but to score sufficient points through three excellent tries, two of which were scored by 2/3rds of the front row, to be leading with 5 minutes to go.
Both Steve Tomlinson and Conor Barron showed great speed, power and balance to score two tries, which followed a number of good phases of pick and drive, Cameron Fisher providing one conversion.
The half-time score of 14-12 to Old Halesonians was a lot better than we expected after 10 minutes and Jack Killian was brought on into the back row and immediately added a zip to the team.
Kenilworth were now playing with a slight breeze behind them and this allowed both half-backs, Neil Sutherland and Cameron Fisher, to play the ball into the corners with some excellent kicking.
The second half produced some good attacking rugby from both sides with resolute defending as well, but a long kick ahead by Ed Hannam, should have been collected by the home winger, but he managed to kick the ball back over his try line and proceeded to slip over, which winger Ryan Hutchinson gratefully accepted by touching the ball down for a try converted by Cameron Fisher. This took Kenilworth into the lead at 12-19.
Kenilworth were still having to defend manfully, but were also able to inflict a lot of pressure on the home side, despite the awful conditions and an over-zealous referee, who made sure he stopped the game at every opportunity. On a cold day, the game just needed to flow and both teams felt that the match could have been less stop start.
With 5 minutes to go and no great pressure on the visitors, Old Halesonians scored a try, which was almost the carbon copy of Kenilworth’s earlier try. A kick ahead wasn’t properly cleared and in the mad scramble, the home right wing picked up the loose ball and went over in the corner – luckily for Kenilworth the conversion was missed to take the score to a well deserved 19-19.
When the referee blew the final whistle, both sets of coaches and supporters were grateful that the score line reflected the play we had witnessed, but deep down, it was a game that Kenilworth could and should have won. It certainly didn’t look like that after only 10 minutes, but all the lads showed a resolve that had been so spectacularly lacking the previous week and it would be unfair to single out any particular person for praise as this was a complete team performance.
The front row manned up against huge opponents, the second row of Ben Bosworth, who won a fair share of line out ball and James Ray, who was first to tackle every player that Old Halesonians threw at him gave their all. The back row put in overtime in tackling and scavenging all the loose ball. The half-backs kept the team going forward in very difficult conditions and used the ball they got cleverly.
In the centre, Joe Ballinger, linking with Ed Hannam for the first time, shored up the defence and carried the ball with speed and agility. It was not a day for wingers and full-backs as they strived to keep warm, but all three did their bit beautifully.
If only the boys had played with such courage and determination the week previously (as Southam had done and all credit to them for doing so), I feel certain that result would have been different. It was a pleasure to have witnessed such a change around and it augurs well for our forthcoming game against Broadstreet in a couple of weeks time.