Good Performance but Not Enough
By Mark Hodgkiss
For a second weekend the final result did not reflect the performance.
Glen Weightman was away at Danny Barker’s wedding, so Leo Mercer made a first appearance since January 2017, whilst Cameron Hetherington made his debut on the right wing, and Nick Carlton returned to the team on the left wing, in place of Myles Harrop. In the forwards, Matthew Charters was not available, so Ross Mckay started in the second row.
The visit of Harrogate sitting in fourth place, but just three points off top spot, meant the team had to be at their very best if they were to get anything out of the game.
Kendal started well and had an early opportunity to open the scoring, but the penalty failed to find its target. Instead it was Harrogate who took the lead after five minutes. A penalty against Kendal for obstruction on halfway put Harrogate on the attack, and when Kendal conceded a penalty near the posts the kick was successful. 0v3.
Kendal spent a long time defending a series of Harrogate attacks, with the visitors playing a simple game, keeping possession and looking for gaps, but the Kendal defence held firm.
Against the run of play it looked as if Kendal could get the first try. First Dini Noyo, then Zane Butler opened up the Harrogate defence, but the final pass to Nick Carlton failed to find its target.
Kendal were on level terms after twenty five minutes, in a strange way. Chris Downham appeared to be harshly punished when he tried to steal Harrogate ball, but the referee then spotted a Harrogate player taking the law into his own hands, putting a hand in Downham’s face, and reversed the penalty and Chris Park made no mistake. 3v3.
Harrogate mounted another sustained attack near the Kendal line, but the defence was equal to everything thrown at it, but missed Glen Weightman’s long kicks, when trying to clear their lines, on the few times when Harrogate mistakes gave Kendal possession.
In injury time there was concern for Kendal, when the game was stopped for an injury to Zane Butler who was forced off to be replaced by Mark Carruthers. Whilst he did not return he was able to walk off.
The half finished with Harrogate putting a penalty to touch, but when they drove for the line, the Kendal pack managed to hold them up, to keep the score even at half time.
The second half opened up in the same way with Kendal forced into defence in their own twenty two, and the success of this was shown after twelve minutes, when awarded a penalty, Harrogate decided to go for the posts and restore the lead. 3v6.
Almost immediately Harrogate extended their lead. After a poor Kendal chase of the kick off, when the ball came back to Dini Noyo, set off on a run the chipped the ball ahead and tried to chase it, but appeared to be blocked. The referee waved play on, and the kick went to the Harrogate left wing, who found only Liam Ridley, who had just come on as a replacement for Liam Hayton, in front of him and had no difficulty outpacing him, and going through to score. 3v11.
Harrogate continued to dominate play, but the Kendal defence proved equal to everything being thrown at it.
On the rare occasions Kendal had the ball, Chris Downham was in typically rampaging form, but Harrogate were getting wise to the threat from him and Dini Noyo, and were quickly closing them down.
After twenty minutes, there was the moment many on the touchline had been waiting for, when new prop George Tuala came on in place of Robbie Collinson, who had picked up an injury. He soon made his mark as Kendal force a penalty at a scrum, which until this point had been fairly even.
The narrow lead stayed until five minutes of normal time to play. In a change of tactics a Harrogate kick was put to the right wing, and whilst it seemed too long, it was well chased for a score, and centre Nathan Wyman put over the difficult conversion. 3v18.
Again Harrogate added a second quick score. The kick off was re-cycled and there were a number of breaks down the right wing, with a hint of at least two forward passes, before scrum half finished the move, again Wyman added the difficult conversion 3v25.
Robbie Collinson returned in place of captain Dom Musetti.
Harrogate were looking for a fourth try for a bonus point, but twice the referee adjudged the left wing was offside when chasing kicks to the corner.
The Harrogate cause was not helped by having a man yellow carded, possibly harshly when knocking on to end a Kendal passing move.
Dom Musetti returned in injury time, in place of an injured Mark Irving.
Kendal finished the game with one of their best moves, with Robbie Collinson showing no ill effects of his earlier injury, making two good breaks, but in the end the move came to nothing.
For a second home game in a row, one of the top teams leaves Mintbridge without a try scoring bonus point, but whilst Hull’s was dropped erdue to a petulant scrummaging performance, there was little more that Harrogate could have done to have break though the resolute Kendal defence.
Whilst it is still too early in the season for panic, wins for Kirkby and Alnwick mean the gap to safety is widening, and the team will need to secure more ball, to give the opportunities for exciting attacking play that the team have shown they can deliver.
Your Kendal Man of the Match : Chris Downham
Absolutely no doubt this week , Chris picked up 57% of the vote and eight times the number of votes for any other player, eight others got at least one vote.
A typical fully committed performance in attack and defence.
QUIZ ANSWERS :
The two teams last met at Mintbridge on 27th January this year.
How many of today's Kendal ...
1 : 18 were in that 18 ?
2 : starting 15 were in that 15 ?
Two - as Chris Park and Dom Musetti started that game on the bench
3 : team start in the same number jersey ?
None - Dini Noyo started the previous game at 9 and Ross Mckay at 4