Not To Be
Kirkby held on to their long unbeaten record, but not before being given a scare, with Kendal leading fifteen minutes into the second half.
A tough second game of the season, travelling away to a team with a unbeaten league record going back to their loss at Mint Bridge at the end of the 2015/16 season, since when they have only failed to take maximum points once, and have a ground record in the league which goes back several seasons.
Kirkby also came onto the game after a good win against fellow promoted team Birkenhead Park, whilst Kendal’s failure to take their chances at Ilkley, meant they had just the single bonus point.
Injuries meant Garry Holmes and Chris Downham dropped out, with Duncan Green coming in at hooker and Matty Houghton returning to the back row, with Danny Barker coming into the centre and Damian Armstrong moving onto the wing. It was an all new bench, with Mark Carruthers moving to the Development team, with Robbie Collinson, Dan Greenwood and Chris Park coming in.
The game started in sunshine, and the pitch looked in excellent condition.
Kendal had the better of the opening exchanges, but were soon behind when from deep in their own half, Kirkby moved the ball quickly to the left, where wing Harry Ralston (?) scorched down the touchline to score. 5v0.
Kendal narrowed the gap after ten minutes. After his poor pass put the team under pressure, James Gough more than made up for this, taking a penalty quickly and making good ground, before feeding Danny Barker, but he did not have the pace to go over. Kirkby however gave away a penalty which Glen Weightman put over. 5v3
A good break from Kirkby down the right caused confusion in the Kendal defence, and whilst already playing advantage, the referee penalised Liam Hayton for a dangerous tackle, and also gave him a yellow card.
Despite being a player down, Kendal had the better of the next ten minute. The Kirkby throw to the lineout following the penalty was disrupted, and then from a penalty, Kendal found themselves on the attack in the Kirkby half.
The Kirkby defence was coming up very fast cutting off passes, as Kendal tried to attack, but Glen Weighman was able to exploit this, and found a gap and drew the defender, to get a pass away to Dini Noyo, but scorer Harry Ralston read the moved, and tackled Dini as he took the ball, to prevent the try.
After the sunny start, the weather took a turn and there was a heavy shower, which marked Liam Hayton’s return, and Kendal taking the lead with a second Glen Weightman penalty. 5v6
The pressure of expectation seemed to be weighting on some of the Kirkby backs, who were snatching at passes, leading to a number of handling errors, which helped Kendal to hold out.
As the half came to an end Glen Weightman added a third penalty to extend the Kendal lead. 5v9.
Kirkby had a bad start to the second half with the kick off failing to go ten metres, which immediately put Kendal on the attack.
After being awarded a penalty at a scrum in the Kirkby twenty two, rather than go for the posts, or for a lineout, the option for a further scrum was taken. A further penalty from this was also taken as a scrum, but each time Kirkby’s resistance was better, and eventually they managed to escape upfield.
Whilst Kendal had failed to convert their chances into points, Kirkby almost immediately took theirs. As they attacked on the left, a kick was put across field into the left hand corner, for a Kirkby player to get the touchdown to re-take the lead 10v9.
Things soon got even better for Kirkby. Shortly after the re-start, Kendal were trying to run the ball out of defence, but Danny Barker delayed his pass, and anticipating this Kirkby captain and scrum half Ben Walker, was able to intercept, and ran in unopposed for a try under the posts, for an simple conversion for fullback Ryan Terry. 17v9.
There were further worries for Kendal as captain Dom Musetti was forced off, with Robbie Collinson coming on to replace him (sadly rumours that Richard Harryman would be there proved false). This gave Kirkby the upperhand in the scrum.
Musetti was back within five minutes, with Collinson staying on, and Duncan Green coming off, Ross McKay was also replaced with Dan Greenwood coming on.
Despite this Kirkby again stole Kendal ball at a scrum, and Kirkby No.8 Alex Rogers had an untroubled run to the line, with Terry again adding the simple easy conversion. 24v9
Kendal made another substitution with Chris Park coming on at fullback for Nathan Wooff.
Having secured a bonus point and a healthy lead, Kirkby seemed to take the foot off the gas in attack, but were still solid in defence to prevent Kendal finding any way back into the game.
Finally deep in injury time, after Kirkby had been reduced to fourteen men, with the yellow card, good work on the left saw the ball moved to the right for Damian Armstrong to score. 24v14. The conversion was taken quickly and missed as Kendal went in search of another losing bonus point, but it was Kirkby who finished the game on the attack.
So another indication for Kendal how tough the league is going to be this season, with two losses despite not playing badly in either game. Whilst the other promoted teams struggle with no points to their name yet, Kirkby look as if they will be at comfortable at this level.
KENDAL WEBSITE MAN OF THE MATCH : Matty Houghton
No doubt this week. Matty took 50% of votes matching the total of the other six players who receive at least one vote.
Back in the backrow after playing the first half at Ilkley on the wing, Matty had a really good game - as the vote shows.
There will be no early match report next weekend (Rossendale). I will be there, but the report won't reach the website until Sunday morning
Normal service should be resumed for the Pocklington game - then finally it is the BIG one and at last our first home game of the season, at the new ground - If it is not already there get the date (Saturday 30th) in your diary.