Kenilworth ended a run of four defeats with a thrilling bonus-point victory at Crewe & Nantwich, writes Sophie Freestone.
It was Crewe who started the brightest, making their way to the Kenilworth 22 inside the first two minutes but the visitors’ defence prevailed, earning a penalty just a few metres from their line to alleviate the pressure.
A clever kick upfield from scrum-half Gareth Renowden then provided Kenilworth with great field position from which they worked their way into the Crewe 22.
A penalty was the result of their efforts and Josh Hickman, starting his first match following a lengthy injury, secured the points to give the visitors a 3-0 lead.
Shortly after the restart, Kenilworth were awarded another penalty but a missed kick to touch proved costly as Crewe launched an attack up the left wing to score the opening try of the match.
The conversion was missed.
Midway through the half, Kenilworth scored their first try of the game, hooker Rob Gardner touching down on the left to put the visitors 8-5 up.
Kenilworth continued to probe, with prop Nick Collett making good ground with an incisive run up the middle.
Under pressure, the hosts lost their discipline and conceded a penalty for a high tackle, while a player was sent to the sin-bin for a no-hands tackle.
Kenilworth were unable to make the most of their one-man advantage, however, with Crewe kicking a penalty to even it up at 8-8.
The visitors then missed a great opportunity to take an interval lead, with Hickman bundled into touch on the left wing as he looked to supply a tryscoring pass.
Kenilworth came out firing at the start of the second half and scored two tries in a five-minute spell through Renowden and Hannam to give them a comfortable 20-8 lead with just over half an hour to play.
Crewe responded well, with a penalty and a try of their own to reduce the deficit to two pints.
Both sides had attacking opportunities going into the final quarter, but it was the home side who made the most of theirs, scoring a try shortly after Kenilworth had missed the opportunity to extend their lead with a penalty.
With just seven minutes remaining and the tension mounting, Crewe now held a narrow 23-20 lead.
Kenilworth responded well, though, and a fine kick from Renowden resulted in a five-metre lineout for the visitors in the 76th minute from which flanker Josh Fox went over in the right-hand corner.
Hickman’s excellent touchline conversion took Ks’ lead out to four points and they duly hung on in the closing stages to earn a much-needed victory.