Improved display is bonus for strugglers

OLD NORTHAMPTONIANS 32 KENILWORTH 22

After the horror of the previous week’s thrashing at Bromsgrove, Kenilworth produced a much more acceptable showing at Old Northamptonians, with only a number of key refereeing decisions proving the difference between the two National Three Midlands sides.

Ks did not get off to the best of starts, with Dave Clements sent to the sin-bin following an early altercation with a home player.

The resultant penalty from close to the halfway line provided the opening score and was the first in a string of penalties awarded to ONs.

Although some of these can be attributed to poor discipline on Kenilworth’s part, a number of the decisions were extremely difficult to understand.

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One of these resulted in a short tap and go for the opening try of the game. The successful conversion made it 10-0 to the hosts.

With the return of Clements, Kenilworth put a string of probing attacks together while the hosts were still looking dangerous on the counter.

Ks’ failure to find touch with a clearance led to Old Northamptonians increasing their lead, swift hands through the backs seeing the ball touched down under the posts.

Kenilworth provided the perfect response as the half drew to a close. A 33rd-minute penalty was kicked to touch and from the lineout, the ball was passed along the backs for Mike Rust to go over from 20 metres. The conversion was missed.

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Straight from the restart, good work from debutant number nine Rob Bennett put Mike Rust away for a trademark run from deep. Clever interchange between Rust and Eckard Jacobs resulted in the South African centre going over for the second Kenilworth try.

Another narrowly missed conversion put the score at 17-10 at the break.

The first ONs attack of the second half was successfully repelled and a breakout run by Adam Canning put Ks within touching distance of the home line. After a series of mauls, Dan Roberts crashed over for a third Kenilworth try. The successful conversion brought the scores level.

ONs hit back from the restart with only a last-gasp tackle from Max Wade preventing a certain score after a kick and chase. The writing was on the wall, however, and ONs quickly restored their seven-point advantage with a converted try.

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Soon after, Kenilworth prop Rhys Llewellyn was yellow-carded for hands in the ruck, with ONs taking advantage of the resultant penalty to score a further try.

The extra man was clearly telling and, after another try-saving tackle, a brawl close to the line saw Kenilworth hooker Ben Stokes and the ONs lock see red.

ONs kicked the resultant penalty to extend their lead to 15 points.

With time running out, Kenilworth belied their lowly position with a try from substitute winger Max Wade gaining them a vital bonus point.