Vital Win !
By Mark Hodgkiss
Report provided by Bernard Parsons
Conditions were near perfect for open rugby as Kendal entertained a Wirral side who had rattled up 50 points plus in their last game. Our defence has been pretty sound this season, with late scores often flattering the opposition. However with an attacking batting average of 12 points per game, clearly there was much work to do.
The team was as printed in the programme and on the website.
Kendal kicked off towards the A6 with a slight chill wind at their backs and were immediately on the attack dominating territory and possession.
Nick Carlton had an early run down the right but a penalty for holding on allowed Wirral to clear.
The early exchanges were all Kendal. A strong run by Zane Butler and then Myles Harrop broke through the middle. With the last man to beat, he offloaded to Chris Downham who was well tackled.
James Annets, the Wirral influential 10, had to leave the field with what looked like a bad leg injury. We wish him well.
The lineout was going well with Garry Holmes finding the safe hands John Dervey. Wirral countered any attempt at setting up a traditional Kendal rolling maul by backing off and creating an accidental offside offence.
On 17 minutes the Wirral line was finally breached when Zane Butler came at a great angle onto a short pop up pass to cross near the posts. However the pass was adjudged to be forward.
After defending well for the first 20 minutes, Wirral with a mazy run from their scrum half finally got into the Kendal half. Enjoying the experience they created an overlap on the right, but the final pass was wayward and knocked on.
On the half hour Nick Carlton was again put in space down the right, and as the cover came across he chipped ahead but his run was cleverly baulked, and he was beaten to the touchdown.
On 37 minutes an attack down the left saw Miles Harrop with a glimpse of a chance, but an optimistic pass went astray. That was the story of the half, lots of ambition, but the final pass being loose, forcing an error.
On 41 minutes Kendal finally took when Chris Park struck a sweet penalty from outside the 22 on the left. 3v0
Wirral’s response was immediate and were soon camped on the Kendal line. Several attempts to maul the ball failed and Chris Downham turned the ball over. The ball was fed back to Nathan McCloy who kicked for touch to end the half. 3v0 was poor reward for the home side’s efforts.
The second half was a mirror image of the first. Wirral set of at a high tempo running hard and looking to offload in the tackle.
One attack deep in the home 22 was halted by Myles Harrop whose tackle forced a knock on. The ball was cleared from the resulting scrum. The Kendal scrum was now coming under increasing pressure. Wirral were coming at Kendal in waves, but the home defence was well organised and another turnover allowed Nathan McCloy to clear up to halfway.
After 50 minutes Garry Holmes had done his shift, and was replaced by Robbie Collinson.
15 minutes into the half Kendal got their one chance. Nathan Mccloy hit 50 metre spiralling kick which rolled into touch 10 metres from the Wirral line on the clubhouse side. Wirral lost their line out and Kendal set up a series of driving mauls. This sucked in the Wirral defence, and with visitors expecting more of the same Nathan McCloy made the call. Dini Noyo hit him with the perfect pass to Nathan McCloy, the ball was moved on to Glen Weightman, who flung a brilliant pass out in front of Myles Harrop. He took it at full speed and he scored wide out. Wow! Chris Park’s conversion fell just short. 8v0
Matthew Charters and Mathew Kaye replaced Stephen Nelson and Chris Park who, along with Myles Harrop, had been very secure under the high ball in the first period.
If it was possible Wirral raised their intensity and after 62 minutes were awarded a penalty on the home 22. The kick was successful and the breathing space had gone. 8v3
After 70 minutes the Wirral fullback broke the defensive line on halfway. A scrambling defence halted the play, but with a penalty close to the Kendal line, Wirral elected for a scrum. They had had the upper hand all day and were looking for a push over or penalty try. Three resets followed and the tension rose. At the fourth attempt Wirral were penalised for boring in? The ball was cleared. Was this the defining moment?
Apparently not. The game had become a case of Kendal booting the ball downfield and chase and Wirral run it back.
Nearing full time Chris Downham forced a penalty and Nathan Mccloy cleared to the Wirral 10 metre line.
Surely we could play the game out ? No, from the successful catch at the lineout we were done for holding on.
Back came Wirral and with 43 minutes on the clock and with the ball once more in the home 22 it was lost forward and the referee whistled full time.
The cheers or sighs of relief could probably be heard at the Town Hall.
It was a great defensive effort. Both teams gave everything.
The win should give the team confidence.
No injuries today and with players coming back from injury and other commitments there is room for optimism.
So get down to the Wilmslow game or maybe have a trip to Blaydon. The team deserves your support!
Your KENDAL MAN OF THE MATCH : Kirk Chettleburgh
No doubt this week with Kirk taking twice as many votes as the next highest, John Dervey and Billy Coxon, with eleven players getting a vote