Close - but it's Another WIN
By Mark Hodgkiss
A injury time try gave Kirkby the chance to snatch a draw but the touchline conversion failed
Whilst it was cold and wet with the floodlights on from kick-off, the threat of snow or freezing rain did not materialise, and the game was played on the first team pitch.
None of Kirkby’s ex Kendal players, Mike Fearon, Dave Barton, James Thompson or Gareth Gore appeared in the starting line-up. Kendal had kept faith with the team that had won against Wilmslow last weekend, with the only changes seeing Mark Irving return after suspension, whilst Ross Mckay replaced Liam Hayton in the second row, so Glen Weightman again started on the bench.
Kirkby kicked off playing away from the river, but it was Kendal who made the better start, with the forwards twice driving Kirkby off the ball at rucks, to turn the ball over.
Kendal had an opportunity to open the scoring with a long range penalty when Kirkby were caught offside, but the kick did not have the distance, and using the wind on their backs, there was a good Kirkby clearance kick.
Against the early run of play, it was Kirkby who got the first score, with a Ryan Terry penalty after seven minutes 0v3.
The Kirkby pack had been second best at both scrums and line-outs including stealing two Kirkby throws. There was a blow for Kirkby after a quarter of an hour, as a prop was forced off, after needing a long period of treatment, but fortunately he was able to walk off, but this further weaken his teams forward effort.
As the game progressed Kirkby had the better of play, without really threatening the Kendal line. Kendal had a let off when a penalty failed to hit the target.
There was an increasing amount of friction between the two packs, and five minutes into injury time, Kendal were reduced to fourteen men, with a yellow card to one of the smaller players on the field, when scrum half Matthew Kaye was penalised for a dangerous late tackle. Ryan Terry doubled the Kirkby lead with the resulting penalty. 0v6.
The referee re-started the game, but there was no further score before half time.
Kirkby made Kendal wait at the start of the second half, coming out well after Kendal, but again it was Kendal who made the better start.
Almost immediately Kendal had to make a change with Robbie Collinson joining the back row in place of Steven Nelson.
With the Kirkby defence holding firm, after ten minutes, with the referee already signalling a penalty, Nathan McCloy dropped a goal to open the Kendal scoring, 3v6.
As the game entered the final quarter, Kendal finally found a way to break through the Kirkby defence. The ball was moved right and flanker Kirk Chettleburgh found a gap then delivered the scoring pass to Nick Carlton, to give Kendal the lead for the first time. 8v6
Five minutes later Garry Holmes was forced off, and Steven Nelson returned, with Robbie Collinson moving to hooker.
With ten minutes to play Kendal made their final change with captain Dom Musetti coming off to be replaced by Jack Lashley.
As the game moved towards injury time, Kirkby put what appeared to be a good kick deep into the Kendal half, but it was gathered and fed to substitute Glen Weightman, who put a massive kick back to the Kirkby line. A Kirkby player tried to attack from his own line, but instead was enveloped by Kendal players, and Kendal were awarded the put in to a scrum on the line. There was a delay for an injury, but when the scrum re-set, after an attempt to drive over, Chris Downham quickly picked up and managed to drive himself over the line for the try. The conversion which would have given Kendal a two score lead failed. 13v6.
The score fired up Kirkby, with Kendal making a number of errors, including losing a lineout, which had been solid for much of the afternoon. A string of penalties kept Kirkby looking for a score to tie the game, and after the Kendal defence had managed to repel a number of attacks, finally a Kirkby player squeezed over in the right hand corner, giving a difficult kick into the wind to snatch a draw.
As it failed to make the distance, there was a sigh of relief from the Kendal support, before the celebrations started.
Kirkby possible had the better of the first half, but Kendal totally dominated the second. Whilst Kirkby probably had the better cutting edge in attack, their inability to get ball at set pieces, meant that it was only a resolute defence, and some excellent work at the back of a beaten scrum by No.8 David Maka, which prevented a much bigger defeat, and the heart stopping finale.
Results elsewhere mean that the gap to the bottom two widens, but whilst the gap to safety reduces, Lymm’s draw means they still have a three point advantage.
Your KENDAL MAN OF THE MATCH : Nick Carlton
After just missing out last week, yet another try saw Nick top the table by some distance from Chris Downham, with Kirk Chettleburgh a little further back.
By far the biggest vote of the season with some of the worst weather, but the team rewarded us with a performance for that much needed win - hopefully more of the same in the New Year.