A Game of Two Halves
By Mark Hodgkiss
After a good first half performance and building a 19v0 lead, the expected second half bonus point performance just did not come
There were a number of changes in the Kendal line up from the win at Kirkby Lonsdale last weekend. Zane Butler, Danny Barker, Nick Carlton and Chris Downham dropping out, with Mark Carruthers, Ben Dixon and Kirk Chettleburgh coming in.
Promoted as Champions last season, Vale of Lune have had a tough start to the season and were one of only two teams in the League awaiting a win, after losses to relegated Blaydon, and also promoted Wilmslow.
Kendal got off to a bad start, after much improved lineout performances this season, they managed to get penalised on their first two throws.
Despite the shaky start, Kendal had the lead after four minutes. Vale conceded a soft penalty in their own twenty two, for obstruction as they tried to run the ball out of defence. Jack Blakeney-Edwards put the kick over off the post 3v0.
Dini Noyo started to make a number of good runs out of defence, and after one on the right the ball was moved across field to Myles Harrop on the left, who made good ground but was stopped near the line. When the ball came out Glen Weightman twice went for the line, when there may have been better options outside him, and the move was ended with a knock-on.
Despite being on top in the scrum, Kendal were penalised several times, but extended their lead with a second Jack Blakeney-Edwards penalty when the Vale pack were penalised after a quarter of an hour.6v0.
Four minutes later Kendal again went for the posts, when Vale were caught offside after another good Dini Noyo run. Jack Blakeney-Edwards again made no mistake. 9v0.
A try finally came after twenty minutes. Vale lost the ball in the Kendal half and Glen Weightman put an excellent kick up field. It was well chased by Myles Harrop, and when the bounce of the ball evaded the Vale defence, he did well to gather, and then shrug off several attempted tackles, to go through to score, with Jack Blakeney-Edwards adding the conversion. 16v0.
When awarded a further penalty with ten minutes of the half to play, after Vale failed to release the ball in the tackle, Kendal yet again decided to go for the posts, and yet again Jack Blakeney-Edwards made no mistake. 19v0.
The referee yellow carded a Vale prop for a “no arms tackle” (shoulder charge), but Kendal could not take advantage of the extra man advantage.
There was no more scoring before half time, and only disappointment was Kendal had not score more tries, but there was plenty of time to play.
The second half turned into a dull affair, with Kendal dominating possession, but making a string of handling errors, and poor decisions, whilst Vale offered little attacking threat.
After fifteen minutes, with Matthew Charters receiving attention, Kendal made a double substitution with Jack Lashley and Robbie Collinson coming on, and Mark Irving and Garry Holmes coming off.
After needing more attention Matthew Charters was finally forced off ten minutes later, with Chris Park replacing him. He did not join the back row, instead going to fullback, with Dini Noyo going onto the wing, and Ben Dixon to his normal position of No.8.
Vale pulled a try back with five minutes to play. Finding themselves defending in their own twenty two, despite having several opportunities to clear their lines, Kendal tried to run the ball out of defence, and were finally punished when a loose pass in midfield, was intercepted by centre Jonty Higgin, who had the simple job of touching down, with the conversion added by wing Olly Jacques (?) 19v7
Another period of Kendal pressure came to nothing, and it was Vale who score again on the break, with Olly Jacques going over, but crucially the conversion failed meaning that Vale would need more than a single converted try for victory. 19v12.
Kendal managed to hold out for the final four minutes of play for an important win.
Vale will rarely do so little in attack and get a losing bonus point, but it was their solid defensive performance, which rarely gave the Kendal back line any space to work with, that earned it for them.
For Kendal, another performance where pressure and possession, was not turned into points. The experiment of playing Ben Dixon on the wing was inconclusive as the players inside him rarely chose to use him, despite him often getting into good positions. Too many moves were repeated allowing the Vale defence to predict where the ball was going, and the dangers of having forwards cluttering up the back line, led to a number of difficult passes going to ground, and the interception try.
Another key game next weekend with a first ever visit to Alnwick, who got their first win of the season at Wilmlsow, whilst Vale go looking for their first win with a home game against Kirkby.
Your KENDAL MAN OF THE MATCH : Myles Harrop
The well taken try and some excellent tackles saw Myles top the poll
Last season no one picked up the vote twice until Christmas, this season it has happened twice in four games
Garry Holmes came in a little further back, with ten players getting at least one vote.