Mission Accomplished - Just !
By Mark Hodgkiss
A bonus point plus preventing Wilmslow picking up one of their own, was done with the last play of the game
A crucial must win game for both teams, as they tried to pull themselves away from the foot of the table. There was also news that Kendal Head Coach Tom Borthwick had decided to step aside, with Chris Downham taking his place, and Stuart Wilkinson also coming back on board, as backs coach.
Wilmslow had not won since the second weekend of the season, against fellow strugglers Vale of Lune, but three try scoring bonus points, plus a losing one, against Kendal’s solitary try scoring one, meant that a good win could see them pull level with Kendal.
Billy Coxon was unavailable, so Jack Lashley returned, with Liam Hayton and John Dervey also returning. Behind the pack Dini Noyo and Danny Barker started in the centre.
In heavy rain, Wilmslow made the better start, but Kendal also had their chances. Both teams showed touches of skill, but there were regular mistakes, only partly due to the poor conditions.
Wilmslow got the opening score. From an attacking scrum on the right, the ball was moved into mid-field where a large gap appeared in the Kendal defence, which was exploited by fullback Ben Day, who powered through for the try, which was converted by right wing Connor McMurdock 0v7.
Ten minutes later Kendal were back in the game. With the referee playing advantage on the left, Nathan McCloy, launch a long crossfield kick, which Nick Carlton, just failed to gather. The referee came back for the penalty and Kendal took a scrum. Chris Downham picked up and the ball was moved into midfield, but Wilmslow turned it over, only for John Dervey to steal it back. The ball was quickly moved to Dini Noyo who powered to the line, and whilst he was stopped, Nick Carlton was on hand to score in the corner. 5v7.
After showing his attacking skills, Dini Noyo then demonstrated his defensive ones. A Kendal kick was charged down, and seemed to be going loose for Wimslow, but instead Dini Noyo managed to scoop the ball up one handed, then set off on an attack of his own.
This seemed to fire Kendal up, and shortly afterwards they took the lead with a Nathan McCloy penalty, after Wilmslow had been penalised for failing to release, something the referee was very sharp on all afternoon. 8v7
Almost immediately Kendal extended the lead. Back on the attack in the Wilmslow half, Kendal were awarded a penalty. A bit of quick thinking by Matthew Kaye, saw him take a quick penalty and head for the line. Whilst he was stopped just short, the forwards recycled the ball, and with the Wilmslow defence committed, Jack Lashley barged his way over for his second try in two games. Nathan McCloy added the conversion. 15v7.
Wilmslow managed to gather their own re-start and put the Kendal defence under pressure, but Kendal held out, and Wilmslow had to settle for a penalty awarded for a high tackle. 15v10.
Wilmslow finished the half strongly, but Kendal managed to withstand the pressure, to take their narrow lead into half time.
Kendal started the second half well, and Danny Barker made a powerful break, but when he was finally caught, not for the first time, there was no one in support to take a pass and continue the move.
Early in the second half Kendal extended their lead. Nathan McCloy’s kicks through had frequently bounced favourably for Wilmslow, but this time it was Nick Carlton who gathered, and with a wall of defence in front of him, he chipped ahead. The kick appeared to be covered, but the ball squirted away from the Wilmslow player on the damp surface, and another kick through by Nick Carlton took the ball to the line for him to touchdown for his second try. 20v10.
Kendal were having more of the ball, but could rarely make ground with the Wilmslow defence coming up very quickly to cut off passes. When they had the ball Wilmslow looked threatening, but the Kendal defence, with Chris Downham regularly to the fore, were more than a match.
A big concern was the lineout, where Wilmslow were close to perfect, but Kendal were rarely winning their own ball, despite the options available.
After twenty minutes Matthew Kaye was replaced by Glen Weightman.
John Dervey broke away from a lineout, and appeared to be about to replicated his try from the Kirkby game earlier in the season, but instead the ball sipped from his grasp, as he powered towards the line.
Wilmslow had had the dominance in the scrum early on, but as the game progressed the Kendal eight were starting to put pressure on, and then managed to drive Wilmslow off their own put in. Chris Downham picked up and made an amazing bullocking run, with Wilmslow defenders just bouncing off him, as he powered towards the line, but the defence did enough to force him to step into touch.
There was a serious injury to a Wilmslow player in the build up, and he received treatment for several minutes, but fortunately whilst a stretcher was brought out, he was able, with help, to walk off the field.
The stoppage seemed to affect the Kendal momentum more than Wilmslow, as they came back into the game again.
With ten minute to play Kendal made a double substitution taking off flankers Steve Nelson and Kirk Chettleburgh, who like Chris Downham were often at the centre of things in attack and defence, replacing them with Ben Dixon and Robbie Collinson.
Shortly afterwards Wilmslow added a try which narrowed the gap to a single score. 20v15.
Whilst Wilmslow had few chances to steal a win, Kendal also looked as if they were going to fail to get their second bonus point of the season, until another bit of power from Chris Downham.
From a scrum near the Wilmslow line, Chris Downham picked up and brushed off several tackles as he went for the line. He seemed to lose the ball, but the referee was on the spot and when Nick Carlton gathered to touchdown, he awarded the try, so the referee may have spotted the ball being ripped from Chris Downham’s hands by a Wilmslow defender. The touchline conversion failed, but this was the last action of the game.
There certainly appeared to be some luck in the final try, but Wilmslow had frequently benefitted from the ball bouncing their way earlier. At least three good Kendal breaks came to nothing due to lack of support, possibly understandable when it was Myles Harrop, less when it was Liam Hayton needing someone to get on his shoulder for a pass. The lineout was a mess at times, but after some early problems the scrum was solid.
Results elsewhere mean the gap to the two behind us widens, but the gap to Lymm is only slightly reduced, but without the win and bonus point would have appeared far more daunting.
A totally different challenge next week, with the visit of Kirkby, but with an extra week for the new coaching set up to bed in, if the mistakes can be cut out, and some extra urgency found to get players in support, it is certainly not an insurmountable one.
Your KENDAL MAN OF THE MATCH : Chris Downham
Only two in it this week, with the man in the red hat, just edging out triple try scorer Nick Carlton
The biggest vote of the season and they shared over 70% of the votes - seven others did get a vote
|Vale of Lune||12||13||Wirral|
Tight results for the other two in the relegation fight, with Lymm getting over the line, so the gap to them is only reduced by one point, but Wirral got a rare away win at Vale of Lune, so the gap from them opens up by four