Kenilworth 3 Stratford 8: Kenilworth pay the penalty for scorning kickable opportunities

Mat Gibson pushes for the Stratford line as Tom Lane and Alex Selby look on. Picture: Willie Whitesmith
Mat Gibson pushes for the Stratford line as Tom Lane and Alex Selby look on. Picture: Willie Whitesmith

In a dour struggle on a very wet pitch, Kenilworth succumbed to their second defeat of the season, spurning a number of kickable penalty opportunties in the closing stages, writes Willie Whitesemith.

Incessant rain prior to kick-off meant there was standing water on the pitch but the referee was happy for the game to proceed.

Kenilworth started well, with their dominance at the scrum providing the platform, only for tryscoring opportunities to be spurned by the final pass going astray or forward.

Stratford slowly got a foothold inthe game, stealing several Kenilworth lineouts and they took the lead in the 15th minute following a penalty which they kicked to the home five-metre line.

From the resulting lineout a catch and drive produced the opening score for former Old Leamingtonians open-side Liam Jones.

The try went unconverted.

Kenilworth again began to exert themselves through the scrum and an almighty shove marched Stratford 15 metres back but again the chance, and subsequent opportunities, went begging.

Ks continued to lose line-outs and new head player-coach Johnny Cresswell brought himself on and immediately ruffled a few Stratford feathers.

However, the half ended with defences on top and no further scoring.

Kenilworth made a change at the start of the second half with Ed Holmes replacing the injured Ed Hannam in the centre.

The period opened in a similar fashion with Stratford looking the more likely scorers in an error-strewn period of play.

The home side were now winning their fair share of lineout ball despite the loss of second-rower Ed Rogers to a yellow card for persistent offside.

Kenilworth’s cause was also not helped when influential prop Ross Lowthian had to retire with a dislocated finger.

Despite being down to 14, Kenilworth began to sense they could win the game and in the 50th minute they won a penalty out wide which full-back Josh Hickman casually slotted over to close the deficit to two points.

Following a series of Stratford penalties, their stand-off took advantage of an easy opportunity to extend the lead to 8-3 with 15 minutes remaining.

It was now Kenilworth’s turn to dominate the closing period and they were offered many opportunities to close the gap and take the lead from the many penalties conceded by Stratford but chose to kick for the lineout option instead.

Only one real chance was created, with winger Joe Yeomanson almost making the line in the corner only to be tackled into touch.

The game ended with Kenilworth putting in an almighty shove on a Stratford scrum only for the referee to penalise them.