Kenilworth got the 2015/16 campaign under way with a strong performance against a committed Leek team, writes Ralph Murray.
With players fresh from the summer break the opening minutes of the game were frantic and error-filled.
Good early work by Kenilworth looked to have brought its first reward when winger Joe Yeomanson grounded the ball in the corner but he was adjudged to have made touch prior to the act of scoring.
This, however, proved only a temporary stay of execution as Joe Jepps took possession in midfield and took the ball up strongly before being hauled down five metres short. Kenilworth recycled well and it was Jepps in the right place to record the first try of the season. Josh Hickman added the two.
Leek responded with some strong running but the Kenilworth defence was resolute.
Kenilworth had now established the set-scrum as a real weapon and should have taken more from this phase but Leek managed to scramble one such put-in away and reduced the deficit with a penalty to go in at the interval 7-3 down.
The second half began with Ks’ promising work undone by the referee’s whistle.
Despite the discipline issues, Kenilworth exhibited real desire to keep the scoreboard active.
Jepps chipped the defender, gathered his own kick and was brought down short of the line. Support arrived in a hurry and captain James Wadey eventually touched down for the second try of the afternoon.
With the game entering the final half-hour, Leek closed the gap to 12-6 with another successful penalty and were pressing for their first try.
A sustained series of 12 phases, all within five metres of the home line, were repelled by some outstanding defence.
Eventually the strain told as Leek were awarded a penalty but the attempted tap was well read by Nick Collett who bundled the carrier into touch to relieve the pressure.
As Ks countered they made good ground before finally winning a penalty of their own for a ruck infringement. Hickman added the three to stretch the lead to nine points.
More pressure from Ks close to the Leek line saw their number eight rush his pass and put the full-back under pressure. Mikkel Andreson caught him in possession to win a scrum five from which Wadey added his second try.
Leek had an air of urgency now and wasted a three-on-two overlap when the final pass drifted forward.
And Ks duly made them pay when scrum-half Gaz Renowden beat two Leek defenders to touch down Andreson’s kick for the bonus-point try.