Kenilworth pack a punch to see off resilient Barkers’ Butts

Kenilworth resisted a second-half revival from Barkers’ Butts to record a narrow 30-26 victory in the first league meeting between these two sides since 2006/07, writes Dan Stephenson.

Gareth Renowden looks for an opening during Kenilworths narrow Midlands One West victory over Barkers Butts. Picture submitted
Gareth Renowden looks for an opening during Kenilworths narrow Midlands One West victory over Barkers Butts. Picture submitted

Straight from the kick-off, Kenilworth’s pack held the upper hand in the set piece, pushing the Barkers’ eight off the ball and securing position.

The forwards took the ball on and when it was eventually spread out to the backs, the visitors were caught offside, allowing Ks full-back Josh Hickman top open the scoring from 35 metres.

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Barkers’ were stung into action and elusive full-back Robert Knox made huge yardage after being released on an inside burst by centre Jack Howland.

This break allowed Knox to feed his winger, who ran in a try by the corner flag.

The conversion was missed but shortly after the restart, fly-half Tom Stokes kicked his side into the Kenilworth 22 where a fumble from Alex Selby allowed the Barkers’ players to pounce on the loose ball and again go over in the corner.

Stokes kicked the resulting conversion to put his side 12-3 up after just 15 minutes.

The home side again used the strong set piece to move the ball upfield through both forwards and then backs and, after a strong run up the wing by new signing Joe Jepps, the ball was passed along the line, where Ks flanker Jack Gibson crossed the line after a strong run from new signing Joe Jepps to cut the deficit to four points.

As the game moved at breakneck pace, another piece of Barkers’ opportunism, when their number eight pounced on a long cut-out pass to intercept and score underneath the posts, moved the score to 19-8 with only a quarter of the game gone.

The Kenilworth forwards then provided the inspiration to get the home side back into the game, pushing the Barkers’ pack off their own ball and allowing Renowden to feed Gibson, who again made the line for his second try.

The resultant conversion attempt from Hickman hit the post.

With the pack keeping up the pressure, a number of drives up the pitch resulted in prop Nick Collett spinning over the line with the successful conversion by Hickman putting Ks 20-19 up at the interval.

The second half started well for the home side with Simon Tyler getting in on the scoresheet after a deft cut back inside.

Hickman’s conversion extended the lead to eight points.

Showing they had not learnt from previous lessons, Kenilworth allowed Knox to break from his own 22 and evade a number of tackles before releasing his winger to score.

Stokes converted to close the deficit to a point but Kenilworth ensured there was going to be no dramatic comeback with Hickman slotting over a penalty after more good work from the pack.