By Mark Hodgkiss
On a blustery afternoon in the North East, the team competed well but were over powered by the team in second place
An away trip to second place Billingham, with a perfect home record of ten wins from ten, all with try scoring bonus points, was always going to be difficult, and was made harder by the absence of some first team regulars, but there were returns from injury for Matthew Charters and Garry Holmes, whilst newcomers scrum half Wayne Ngubane and ex Vale of Lune prop Mike Bradshaw made their debuts, along with the Development team’s Dan Shorrock.
With Dom Musetti relegated to water carrier for the afternoon, Glen Weightman was captain.
Kendal made a flying start. In the first minute Matthew Charters try to steal Billingham ball at the breakdown, and when the player failed to release, the referee awarded a penalty which Chris Park put over. 0v3.
Billingham were straight back into the game, and poor Kendal tackling allowed a break down the right, which was only stopped by a last gasp Mark Carruthers tackle. Billingham were not to be denied, and when the ball was re-cycled the referee spotted a high tackle. The penalty was put to touch and from the lineout the Billingham pack rumbled to the line, for burley No.8 Dan Dixon to break away and score. 5v3
Kendal were soon back in the game. Alistair Thompson, playing in the back row, stole a Billingham lineout throw, the ball was moved wide to Kris Bratton who made a good break, and when he was stopped Mark Carruthers, was on hand to take the pass and put a kick through, but it rolled dead on the fast artificial surface.
Kendal were to regain the lead after ten minutes. Again a penalty was forced for Billingham failing to release the ball after a tackle. John Dervey won the lineout and the ball was moved to Danny Barker who made ground, then Kris Bratton who was stopped near the line. New scrum half Wayne Ngubane, got a pass away quickly to Glen Weightman, who fooled the defence to go through a gap to score, with Chris Park adding the conversion. 5v10.
Kendal held the lead for a quarter of an hour, and whilst Billingham always looked dangerous with ball in hand, Kendal also had their chances, and were on the attack when Billingham got their next score. From inside his own half, No.8 Dan Dixon opened up the Kendal defence, and gave the pass to centre Luke Wilson to go through for the score, which was converted by outside half Peter Evans, to give his team back the lead. 12v10.
Billingham were increasing the pace and Kendal were giving away a number of penalties. Dan Dixon again opened up the Kendal defence and got the ball away to his wing, but Kendal had a let off when the ball was lost over the line. The respite was short lived, as the Billingham pack had the Kendal scrum under pressure, and when the ball came out the clearance kick was charged down, and a Billingham player got to the ball first for a simple touchdown 17v10.
Kendal continued to have their chances, with John Dervey and Billy Coxon, both coming close to taking interceptions, only to knock on.
John Dervey stole Billingham ball and set up a counter attack from inside the Kendal half. A good run by Kris Bratton took Kendal close to the score, but a number of attempts by the forwards to get over failed, and when the ball came out, it was knocked on.
Billingham added two further converted tries in injury time, both coming from their dominance of the scrum, to give a halftime lead of 31v10.
At halftime, the referee got some advice from Billy Coxon on why the Billingham pack were getting an unfair advantage, whilst the referees coach gave him some advice on watching some of the Billngham passes which appeared from the side line to be drifting well forward. Both seemed to be taken heed of in the second half.
There was a poor start to the second half for Kendal, with Billingham coming out fast. Mark Irving picked up a yellow card for his part in preventing a score. As Billingham chose to take a scrum from the penalty, Kendal were forced to make a further change, bringing on prop Mike Bradshaw for his debut, with Robbie Collinson having to take a break from his duties in the backrow.
From the scrum, the ball was moved onto the centre, but when this move was stopped, a long pass to the right wing saw a score. 36v10
Despite Danny Barker needing treatment, it was Kris Bratton who came off after ten minutes, with Dan Shorrock making his debut. This saw Mark Carruthers move into the centre, and Dini Noyo move to the left wing.
Good support work and a few missed tackles saw a further Billingham converted try after a quarter of an hour. 43v10.
When the sin bin period had ended, Robbie Collinson returned and Mark Irving stayed on the bench, but he returned after the latest Billingham score, in place of Matthew Charters. Robbie Collinson went to hooker, with Garry Holmes moving to his old spot at No.8.
Five minutes later a quickly taken penalty and another long pass to the right wing saw a further Billingham score. 48v10.
After twenty five minutes Kendal made a further change with Jack Lashley coming on for Billy Coxon.
The final Billingham score came with fifteen minutes to score. Kendal were driven off their own ball at a scrum, and another long flat pass to the wing resulted in a try. 55v10.
After spending most of the half defending, and hardly getting any ball in hand, as the game came to the end Kendal had a few chances, but Billingham proved as strong in defence as they had in attack.
Despite the score line there were a number of positives. There was better competition for the ball at the breakdown which forced a number of penalties, whilst the lineout was near perfect. New scrum half Wayne Ngubane, kept the ball moving fast to Glen Weightman, and prop Mike Bradshaw played well in the loose after he came on. There were a number of other good performances, including from John Dervey and Alistair Thompson.
The bad news was Lymm got a bonus point win to expand the gap to survival further, but still plenty to play starting next weekend against Rossendale at Mintbridge.
Your KENDAL MAN OF THE MATCH : Wayne Ngubane
A very promising debut against a difficult opposition
| = = =|| = = =|| = = =||HALF TIME||40+8||31||10|
| = = =|| = = =|| = = =||FULL TIME||82||55||10|