Well Beaten by a Good Side
By Mark Hodgkiss
Kendal trailed 15v0 at half time and despite a much improved second half performance it was Alnwick who took their few chances and Kendal's only reward was a Ben Dixon try
Already without the unavailable Dini Noyo, plus injured Kris Bratton and Zane Butler, the team was further depleted as Jack Blakeney-Edwards had dropped out, after picking up an injury in Thursday training. Chris Park moved from the bench to fullback, with Myles Harrop moving to the wing, and Nick Carlton into the centre, with Danny Barker.
There was a further disruption for Kendal in the warm up, when John Dervey broke a bone in his finger, so Matthew Charters came in to take his place.
Alnwick dominated the opening exchanges with Kendal conceding a number of penalties, finally this resulted in the opening score after five minutes, with second row George Fox kicking a penalty 3v0.
Five minutes later Alnwick had their opening try. Kendal were attacking down their left wing, but ball was turned over, and moved to Alnwick’s left. There were a number of missed tackles, as left wing Rory Mallaburn went through to score in the corner. 8v0
Alnwick looked to be about to score again, ten minutes later, but a mixture of some last ditch tackling, and loose passes kept them out. The relief for Kendal was however short lived as Alnwick stayed on the attack, and after a scrum added a second try which Fox converted 15v0.
As the half went on Kendal got more of the ball, but Alnwick showed they were as good in defence as they were in attack, giving the Kendal back line no room to move in, and stopping forwards in their tracks, often forcing them backwards.
The half ended with more excellent Alnwick attacking play, but Kendal had a let off as a pass to the wing, for an easy run in instead went to touch.
Kendal made a change at half time with Matthew Kaye coming on at scrum half for Alex Pantechis.
Alnwick again started strongly, and after a number of phases of play, a gap opened up for outside half Callum Burn to go through and score under the posts, with George Fox making no mistake with the conversion. 22v0
After six minutes of play, Alex Pantechis returned to the field, with Danny Barker going off. He went onto the wing with Chris Park, who had swapped places with Myles Harrop midway through the first half, moving to outside half, and Glen Weightman moving into the centre
Kendal finally got on the scoreboard after a quarter of an hour. They got poor ball from a scrum, but the ball was moved across field, and after Myles Harrop made ground, he passed to Ben Dixon, who had still plenty to do, but managed to hold off would be tacklers to score in the corner. Chris Park’s conversion hit the post. 22v5.
Kendal had upped their game from the first half, and had the majority of play, with Matthew Kaye getting the ball away quickly, but the Alnwick defence was still giving nothing away, and Kendal often found themselves going backwards, despite keeping the ball.
After withstanding a long period of pressure, Alnwick moved out of defence, and a long kick down field gave Kendal a lineout on their own line, but they lost the ball, and Alnwick went through for their forth try, which George Fox again converted this time from near the touch line 29v5
With a quarter of an hour to play Kendal made a second change, with Dom Musetti coming off, to be replaced by Jack Lashley.
Kendal continued to play well, but could not find any openings. Steven Nelson, Kirk Chettleburgh and Chris Downham, regularly looked for openings, but any gaps soon closed, and whilst Alnwick always seemed to have players in support to take the move on, Kendal players were rarely able to do this, slowing the ball down, and allowing the Alnwick defence to regroup.
With five minute to play, Alnwick added a further try from a scrum. When the ball came back, the centre caught the Kendal defence napping as his apparent dummy run, instead saw him sail in for a simple try, with George Fox adding the conversion. 36v5.
As the game came to an end there was another injury for Kendal. Ben Dixon chased a kick down the wing, but when he stretched to challenge for the ball in their air, he fell awkwardly and injured his knee.
Whilst with a stronger Kendal team the score may have been closer, Alnwick look a very well drilled team in attack and defence, and if they can keep this standard up for the rest of the season, they should have little difficult maintaining their place in the league, and possible pushing for a mid-table finish.
With a difficult fixture at Mintbridge against Hull next Saturday, before a free weekend, Kendal will hope to be able to get some of their absentees back as soon as possible.
Your Kendal MAN OF THE MATCH : Kirk Chettleburgh
Due to the location, a much smaller vote this weekend, but no doubt about the result, with Kirk getting half the votes.
It said a lot for the quality of Alnwick defence (and one of their supporters told me how good it, was before kick off), that Kirk could not break through - but he certainly gave it a good try.
No other player got more than a single vote, with the rest also going to the forwards, except Matthew Kaye, who seemed to make a real impact when he came on at half time.