'Gate Shut Out
By Mark Hodgkiss
Report from Bernard Parsons
It was breezy and fresh at The Stratstone Stadium for the clash between a Harrogate team pushing for the play off place, and a Kendal team with interests at the other end of the league table.
Kendal kicked off up the slight slope into a left to right strongish breeze. Harrogate returned the ball with interest and were immediately deep in the Kendal 22. The attack broke down with a knock on. However from the scrum we saw the strength of the home pack as they shoved us off our ball. During these early exchanges another scrum was lost. The pattern of the game was soon evident. The ball belonged to the home side and they were going to keep it. For fully 10 minutes they battered the Kendal line but with some great tackling and much resolve there was no breach.
Twice there was respite. From a solid scrum Glen Weightman put in a good clearing kick and from yet another five metre defensive scrum, Chris Downham galloped away on the blindside and the siege appeared to be lifted when Glen Weightman cleared to halfway.
Indeed we at last got our hands on the ball. Not for long, as Harrogate turned it over and their backs attacked down their left . A couple of missed tackles gave their winger space .He drew the last man and passed inside to the support runner who finishes the move off under the posts .
15 minutes gone 7-0.
Although still in Kendal half, play did seem a bit more even. From a penalty on the 22 instead of going for touch Kendal took a tap. The ball was quickly moved wide to Myles Harrop who made good ground up his wing .
The scrum had settled down and the first three lineouts had worked perfectly. Although mostly on the defensive, Kendal managed to keep play in midfield. But when you are under pressure a team tends give penalties away and after 35 minutes Mr Charlton issued Dom with a team warning.
As halftime approached the Harrogate forads were once more bearing down on the Kendal line. They were awarded a penalty under the posts and elected to scrummage. The Kendal scrum held firm but after some tremendous defence eventually Harrogate drove over the line.
With the diagonal wind and slope in Kendal’s favour, there was perhaps reason for optimism. Maybe an epic comeback. So I remained behind the posts at the lower end of the hoping that where the action would take place. Not to be.
Harrogate changed their game plan slightly, bringing their backs more into play.
From a retreating scrum Chris Downham managed to pick up and the ball was cleared.
Not so from the next scrum. Centre field on the 22, the ball came out awkwardly. Attempts to retrieve it failed, and Harrogate scored under the sticks once more. 21-0 after 7 minutes
Shortly afterwards Ross Mckay left the field with an arm injury. Jack Lashley came on to prop and Dom Musetti moved to lock.
Any ball Harrogate had in their own half they box kicked and with the wind direction it was all in Myles Harrop’s direction. He fielded them well but any attempt to counter attack was enveloped by the Harrogate pursuers
A slight squall drove across the ground and my note pad was under pressure now. Pen and soggy paper moment .
After 16 minutes Chris Park replaced Andrew Boardley. So Dini went to scrum half, Chris played fullback, Kris Bratton moved up to outside centre and Mark Carruthers onto the right wing.
Harrogate were striving for their bonus point try. It duly arrived with a classic penalty to the corner and rolling maul. 26-0 21 minutes gone.
Kirk Chettleburgh left the field with a rib injury to be replaced by Dan Wilson. Dan went on his accustomed right wing and as against Hull, Mark Carruthers joined the back row.
Kris Bratton had a run down the right but his pass to Dan Wilson was blocked.
As the half wore on Kendal had two great chances to put points on the board.
From a penalty,Glen Weightman put in a raking kick deep into the home 22. Sadly the lineout was lost and the opportunity had gone.
There was a long spell of possession near the Harrogate line, but although they came close the home defence prevailed.
In the closing minutes the game really opened up with Kendal trying to attack from deep. A long period of possession failed to find an opening and when the ball was lost the hosts quickly moved the ball right and despite being tackled just short, the support arrived to score.
33-0 soon became 38-0 with a similar score.
Mr Charlton blew for full time after 49 minutes of play.
Those late scores slightly flattered the hosts, however they have a game plan and execute it very well. Worthy winners on the day.
Kendal defended with tremendous heart to a man but you can’t win without the ball. More worrying were the two injuries. I hope they prove to be less serious than they looked.
With Kirkby doing us a favour at Lymm, we are still in touch. Next week’s game against Sandal is massive.
Your Kendal Man of the Match : Robbie Collinson
Robbe just holding off Mark Carruthers, Chris Downham and Dom Musetti
photo from Harrogate's Twitter feed
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