Dominant Kenilworth Ladies begin 2017 in style with Cannock victory
Kenilworth Ladies made sure that 2017 got off to a perfect start with a well-deserved 39-12 victory over Staffordshire side Cannock. The first meeting of these sides this season saw Kenilworth secure a narrow 28-26 victory back in October but it was to be a much more dominant performance in front of a home crowd at Glasshouse Lane, writes Sophie Freestone.
Winger Phoebe May Howles opened the scoring for the hosts after just five minutes with a superb counter attack after a Cannock line out 10m from their own try line. Howles was perfectly positioned to take the clearance kick and her speed allowed her to run around the outside of the visitors' defence to score the first try of the afternoon.
Kenilworth then extended their lead with a second try, this time courtesy of centre Felicity Baldwin. Kenilworth were well positioned with a scrum inside the Cannock 22 and the ball made its way to fly half Vicky Stokes who did a miss-pass to Baldwin for her side’s second score, and her first of the afternoon. Stokes was on target with the conversion to give her side a 12-0 lead mid-way through the first half.
With the second quarter underway, Kenilworth were looking to further extend their lead and their third try of the afternoon came courtesy of Harrie Clemens. The full back crossed on the left after some powerful breaks from the forwards gained important territory for the hosts. Baldwin made it through a gap before passing to Clemens for a simple run-in.
Baldwin was then on the scoreboard once again in the first half, scoring a try in similar fashion to her first to take her side up to four tries and given them a 22-0 lead.
Cannock responded with their first try of the match, however, after Kenilworth conceded a penalty for offside. The Cannock scrum half quick-tapped the penalty and sniped through the scrambling Kenilworth defence to score under the posts. The conversion made the score 22-7 before Kenilworth cancelled out the visitors’ points with a converted try of their own from second row Ada Ajoku.
With a 22 point deficit to overhaul Cannock came out firing in the second half, applying sustained pressure to the Kenilworth defence, however the hosts repelled Cannock’s advances and eventually opened the scoring in the final forty.
It was Clemens who did so, scoring her second of the afternoon. Cannock once again chose to kick downfield, only for the ball to make its way to the elusive full back who dodged through multiple defenders to score on the right hand side.
Kenilworth’s back row of Chelsea Williams, Christie Foster and Caroline Spence had a superb second half, making a number of bulldozing runs to take Kenilworth deep into the Cannock 22 from where they scored their sixth of the match. Hooker Lexi MacKee and substitute flanker Alex Clay both went close to crossing the whitewash but it was winger Patricia McMahon who touched down. Despite a slight fumble in midfield, the ball went backwards and made its way to winger McMahon who made no mistake to score out wide on the right.
Cannock made did it onto the scoreboard one last time after Kenilworth conceded back-to-back penalties for off side and a high tackle. The hosts’ defence was too slow to react to Cannock’s hooker who crashed over the line to score their second of the match. However it was a mere consolation as Kenilworth began 2017 where 2016 left off, securing an impressive 39-12 victory to cement their place at the top of the league, six points clear of second-placed Coalville.