By Mark Hodgkiss
A last minute penalty relegated the team, after twice seeming in control to take it to a final weekend.
Chris Wakeford came in for his debut on the right wing, with Dan Wilson moving to the bench. Matthew Charters had failed to recover from an injury picked up last weekend, so Steven Nelson came into the second row, with Billy Coxon replacing him on the bench.
Both teams started at pace, and Kendal had an early opportunity when Wayne Ngubane took a quick penalty, and when the ball came back to him, Glen Weightman put a kick across field for Chris Wakeford, but after collecting the kick, he slipped.
The first score came after seven minutes. Kendal were penalised when the referee adjudged a Mark Irving knock-on to end a Wilmslow attack was deliberate. The kick went to touch, but then a Wilmslow pass went astray, and Chris Evans was able to gather and set up the ball for Dini Noyo, who made a good run, then offloaded to Chris Downham, and when he was stopped Alistair Thompson was on hand to score. Glen Weightman added the conversion 0v7
The second try was even better. With the referee signally a penalty advantage, Glen Weightman risked setting off an attack. Chris Downham made a good break down the right, and when he was stopped he offloaded to Danny Barker, and whilst he was also stopped near the line, he got the ball away to Chris Evans, who had done well to be in support, and he went through for the try. 0v12
Jack Lashley unexpectedly found himself with the ball and space, and made a good run, when he was stopped the forwards kept the ball tight and attempted to drive for the line, and when this was stopped illegally, Wilmslow hooker A Donaldson, was yellow carded. Kendal went for the scrum forcing Wilmslow to sacrifice a second row man, to allow a replacement prop on.
From the scrum Chris Downham picked up, and despite several times seeming to be held, had the strength to spin out of the attempted tackles to get across for the try. 0v17.
Wilmslow set up a number of attacks, and looked certain to score, but Danny Barker, got in to try to steal the ball, and forced Wilmslow to concede a penalty. The respite was short, as the resulting lineout was lost.
Despite playing well, many of the failings of the season were evident. Too few forwards were committing themselves to rucks when Kendal were on the attack, which allowed Wilmlsow to slow the ball and frequently disrupt Wayne Ngubane’s distribution, and force penalties as ball carriers failed to release.
When the Wilmslow sin binning end, they kept the replacement prop on, as he was having a big impact in both the loose and the scrum, and was making a big difference in keeping them in the game.
The Wilmslow No.6 H O’Loughlin made a long run and looked certain to score, only for Dini Noyo to get back and stop him on the line. He was quickly back up, and looked to have successfully stolen the Wilmslow ball, but the referee decided illegally and sent him to the side lines for ten minutes.
Shortly afterwards, following Wilmslow pressure on the Kendal line, they went over for their opening try, with it converted by outside half Connor McMurdock. 7v17
Despite being a man down, Kendal held out until half time.
Billy Coxon came on for Chris Downham at half time.
The opening score was going to be crucial, and it went to Wilmslow with a penalty after Kendal were caught offside after two minutes 10v17.
Wilmslow then knocked on from the re-start, but with Wilmslow now on top in the scrum, it still looked difficult for Kendal, but the referee penalised spotted a Wilmslow scrumaging infringement and awarded Kendal a penalty. Glen Weightman, captaining the team in the absence of Dom Musetti, stepped in quickly to stop a quick penalty being taken, and instead took the kick to extend the lead back to ten points. 10v20.
Wilmslow seemed to have an overlap of several players, but somehow Kendal held them out.
The Wilmslow scrum drove Kendal back off their own ball, and when the scrum disintegrated Jack Lashley gather the loose ball, but illegally, and gave the referee a simple decision of another yellow card.
Wilmslow then set up a good position, and the No.8 A. Taylor picked up for the try to bring his team within a score of the lead. 15v20.
Despite being a man down, and momentum seeming to be with the opposition it was Kendal who upped their game. Danny Barker made an excellent break through the centre, and when he was stopped, yet again Chris Evans had got himself in position to take the pass, to go over for his second try. Glen Weightman added the conversion and Kendal had a bonus point, and a twelve point lead. 15v27.
Better was to follow. A good Dan Shorrock run down the left, was followed by a powerful run by Kirk Chettleburgh, and when he was stopped, Alistair Thompson, used his skills from his past life in the back division, to weave his way through for his second try. Glen Weightman again converted. 15v34.
The turning point of the game came shortly afterwards. Kendal were on the attack and the forwards set up a number of assaults on the Wilmslow line under the posts. They got the ball across the line, but could not get it to ground for the try, and had to settle for a scrum. Wilmslow however again drove the Kendal eight off their ball, and were able to clear, to set up position for a passing move which went from just outside their twenty two to the line, for scrum half Sean Street to score. 20v34
Kendal made a double change with Dan Wilson replacing Dan Shorrock, and Billy Coxon coming on for Jack Lashley.
Three minutes later Wilmslow had another try, again set up from fast passing and good running, with right wing S Beckett getting the touchdown 25v34 with a quarter of an hour to play.
Kendal were struggling to hold onto their own ball, whilst once they had it, Wilmslow were looking after it very well, and putting Kendal under pressure.
With time running out, a Wilmslow error game Kendal a scrum on their line, but again Wilmslow stole the ball for a try, which this time was converted to bring the scores within two points. 32v34.
Initially Kendal were able to hold Wilmslow near the halfway, but when they conceded a number of penalties, this gave Wilmslow the chance to put the ball to touch and having gained the lineout, drove the Kendal pack back. Several times it looked as if Kendal had stolen the ball, to relieve the pressure, but each time it was illegally, and Billy Coxon became the third Kendal player to get a yellow card.
Despite being a man down Kendal continued to holdout and when the ball went loose and Jack Lashley was through to gather it looked as if Kendal could end the game, but the referee decided he had done so illegally and gave Wilmslow a penalty. Having earlier turned down a more difficult kick at goal to win the match, this time responsibility was handed to outside half Connor McMurdock, who had played well in the loose, but had not looked comfortable with any of the earlier more difficult conversions, but this time he held his nerve to put the kick over to give his team a win. 35v34
Whilst skill levels were not the best, this was a entertaining game between two teams happy to play rugby, rather than get involved in a attritional battle for the ball, which too often happens.
The disappointment at the late drama was diluted slightly, with the news that Lymm had won at Sandal, so would have been safe, even if Kendal had held on for maximum points.
So next weekend it is just playing for pride. Where and against whom the team will be playing next season, still seems unclear.
Your KENDAL MAN OF THE MATCH : Chris Evans
Not the biggest turn out this week, for a vital game, which the team led until the last minute of injury time
Another really promising performance from Chris, two tries, the first after doing well to just be in support, and plenty of other good work.
Jack Lashley, who efforts may not have always been to the liking of the referee, was one vote back.