Out Powered - but only just !
By Mark Hodgkiss
After Kendal had the best of the first half, the Grasshoppers looked a different team after half time, so to have run them so close was an achievement
The first home game of the season and the first at the magnificent new Mintbridge complex. After a heavy shower between 1.30 and 2.00, the sun came out again and it dried out before for kick off, in front of a bumper crowd.
Fitness doubts Dini Noyo and Mike Fearon both started, so the only changes to the team at Pocklington, saw Brett Ashley start on the right wing in place of Mark Carruthers, whilst Damian Armstrong replaced Danny Barker, who started on the bench with Duncan Green and Chris Downham.
The visitors Preston Grasshoppers were second in the league, kept off the top spot by an away draw at third place Hull.
After the official ceremonies had been performed in front of the Grandstand by Bill Beaumont, the game kicked off, with Kendal attacking the river end.
Early exchanges were fairly even, Kendal probably having the long period on the attack, but Preston looking more dangerous with the ball in hand, but both defences held firm.
Preston were having the better of the scrums, but Kendal were competing well at the lineout, with Will Montgomery even stealing a Hoppers throw.
It took twenty minutes for the deadlock to be broken, when Chris Park scored the first points at the new ground with a penalty. 3v0. Ten minutes later he added a second penalty. 6v0
As the half came to an end Kendal had to spend their first long period in defence, and finally a clever crossfield kick was gathered by fullback Scott Jordan, who had a his right wing outside him, but did not need him, and went over for an unconverted try 6v5
Kendal extended their lead again before halftime. Preston were on the attack in mid-field, but lost the ball, and Mike Fearon made a break, and realising he would not outpace the defence on his own, he put a kick upfield, only to be cynically taken out late, resulting in a penalty converted by Chris Park and a yellow card for Preston flanker Oliver Trippier. 9v5.
Preston left the field at half time and their coaching team clearly fired them up as they came out a different team, using their greater power, and speed of handling to control the game.
Chris Downham started the second half in place of Will Montgomery, who had had yet another good game.
A Kendal mistake, where a clearance kick was out directly to touch, after being passed back into the twenty two, put Preston immediately on the attack, and they narrow the lead to a point with a penalty from outside half Will Hunt. 9v8.
Kendal made a second change bringing Duncan Green on in place of Garry Holmes, in the front row.
After ten minutes of the half, Chris Park extended the lead with a fourth penalty. 12v8.
Shortly afterwards Preston took the lead for the first time. What appeared to be a poor lineout throw was gathered by second row, Ally Murray, but he was able to exploit confusion in the Kendal defence, to go over for an unconverted try. 12v13.
Preston looked to have scored another try on the right, but the player had just been forced into touch.
There was a blow for Kendal as Matty Houghton was forced off, with Garry Holmes returning in the back row, but he lasted less than five minutes before himself being forced off, with Will Montgomery returning.
Preston added a third try, after Kendal had been penalised at a scrum. Flanker Sam Gale, took the penalty quickly, and forced himself over for a try which was converted by outside half Will Hunt. 12v20.
Glen Weightman was replaced by Danny Barker coming on at centre and Mike Fearon moving to outside half.
Preston were now in total control and only some resolute defence was keeping them out as their massive but very mobile forwards looked to puncture the resistance, and when stopped always seeming to have another coming at pace.
The fourth try came from a scrum on the left. The ball was moved right, and there was a loose pass, and a possibility of an interception by Dini Noyo, but instead the ball fell kindly for Preston, for a third unconverted try. 12v25.
Matty Houghton was able to return in place of Ross Mckay.
With one of their first opportunities of the half in Preston territory, a score was pulled back three minutes into injury time. Preston were caught offside in the centre and the ball was put to touch. The forwards drove to the line, and just as it looked as if Preston had held them up, Glenn Chesher emerged with the try. Needing the difficult conversion to put the team within one score of an unlikely victory, Chris Park stepped up and added the conversion. 19v24.
An opportunity came from a kick out of defence. Two Preston players went for the catch and collided in mid-air, and Brett Ashley was able to gather, but when he was hauled down, the referee quickly stopped play for treatment to one of the Preston players, who had to be taken off on a stretcher.
Preston played out the game using a very simple but effective tight game, to stop Kendal having any chance of getting their hands on the ball for late drama, and having run the clock down put the ball to touch for a hard earned victory.
So for Kendal more injury worries, and disappointment that they could not have pulled off a win in their first game at their new home, but Hoppers look a very good side although their failure to convert three tries could have cost them dearly, if Kendal had been able to turn their first half possession into tries.
Another tough test next week as the team travel to Harrogate.
WEBSITE KENDAL MAN OF THE MATCH : Chris Park
Plenty of competition this week, with ten of the fifteen starters picking up at least one vote, but Chris was a few votes ahead of the rest.
Why not have a look at how the magnificent clubhouse has risen over the last 12 months ? VIEW Then press the arrow in the middle to start the show.
|Try||Preston Grasshoppers||15||Scot Jordan||38||6||5|
|Y/C||Preston Grasshoppers||7||Oliver Tripper||40+1||6||5|
| = = =|| = = =|| = = =||HALF TIME||40+3||9||5|
|Pen||Preston Grasshoppers||10||Will Hunt||42||9||8|
|Try||Preston Grasshoppers||5||Ally Murray||53||12||13|
|Try||Preston Grasshoppers||6||Sam Gale||66||12||18|
|Con||Preston Grasshoppers||10||Will Hunt||67||12||20|
| = = =|| = = =|| = = =||FULL TIME||19||25|
photo : Bill Beaumont performs the official opening.