Lowly Shipston push Kenilworth all the way


There was relief for Kenilworth when, after an afternoon of occasionally misfiring rugby, they secured a bonus-point Midlands Two West (South) win against an enterprising Shipston side, writes Glyn Owen.

As against Leighton Buzzard the previous week, Kenilworth were slow out of the blocks and were punished twice in the first 20 minutes as Shipston took advantage of ill-discipline and flimsy tackling to race into a 12-point lead.

Kenilworth began to attack with a little more cohesion, threatening in the wide channels, but the final pass was often misdirected or led to isolated runners and resultant turnovers.

However, in the closing moments of the half the forwards took control from a lineout 15 metres out and showed great composure in driving over the line for a try from the increasingly influential Jake Dodd. Harry O’Brien added the extras.

The second half continued in the same vein.

From a penalty soon after the restart, captain Jonny Cresswell eschewed the three points on offer and, after O’Brien found touch five metres out, Dodd crossed the line again after another perfectly executed driving maul.

O’Brien’s extras put Kenilworth into the lead for the first time.

Kenilworth’s tails were now up and the introduction of Bobby Thompson began to pay dividends with a number of strong carries, while Gareth Renowden directed operations with some probing kicks from scrum-half.

The next score came from a well-controlled scrum five metres out, with Thompson producing a trademark show and go from the base. O’Brien pushed his conversion attempt just wide.

Kenilworth were now playing the percentages sensibly and, from another incursion into the Shipston 22, pressure yielded another scrum. This time it was Renowden, who, having been thwarted moments earlier, sniped over to secure the bonus-point try.

With O’Brien knocking over the extras to take the score to 26-12, it seemed the tables had been sufficiently turned for Kenilworth to press home their dominance further.

However, Shipston had other ideas and when Kenilworth took their foot off the gas the visitors found some real zip to take the game to the hosts.

Strong running in the centres and some sharp bursts by their speedy left wing led to some increasingly desperate scrambled defence from the K’s and it was no surprise when Shipston crossed the line out on the left.

A well-struck conversion put Shipston in bonus-point territory of their own, cutting Kenilworth’s lead to seven points.

The last five minutes took place in Shipston’s half with Kenilworth having a chance in the last few minutes to take three points which would have left the visitors needing two scores to secure victory.

Sniffing another seven-pointer, Kenilworth opted for the scrum and looked set to cross the line when a spilled ball gave Shipston a last chance.

However, they failed to gain the necessary ground and the ball was hoofed into touch on halfway to signal a hard-earned victory for the hosts.