RFU Intermediate Cup champions Kenilworth secured an impressive 31-7 victory over Stourbridge Lions at Glasshouse Lane on Saturday to start their Midlands One West campaign in fine style, writes Phil Morris.
Following promotion to level 6 at the end of last season, which was followed by national success at Twickenham in May, Kenilworth were intent on laying down a marker at the start of this new campaign, and that is exactly what they did.
Stourbridge kicked off and both teams showed their intent in the early stages, trading possession for the opening few minutes.
Kenilworth’s first scrum proved dominant, triggering a sustained, powerful attack of a dozen or so phases. These phases concluded with a perfectly weighted pass from Bobby Thompson to Ed Hannam for the opening try and a 5-0 lead.
Kenilworth’s early pressure continued and the hosts were soon two tries up. Following a lucky rebound from a Thompson kick which saw the ball return to his hands, the number ten powered his way over the line for a second try in less than ten minutes as Kenilworth held a 10-0 advantage.
As the quarter-mark approached, the home side extended their lead. A classic catch-and-drive move secured a penalty with the boot of Hannam slotting the kick for a 13-point lead.
Despite the deficit, Stourbridge continued to press and looked certain to score a breakaway try after intercepting a pass on the half-hour mark. However, on his first XV debut, Sam Morris gave chase and made a try-saving tackle five metres from the line.
Stourbridge went on to maintain a sustained period of attack but Kenilworth’s defence remained solid and the hosts could not break through.
In fact, it was the hosts that added the final points of the opening 40 with the closing minutes of the half seeing two further Kenilworth scores.
A try from Jake Dodd followed a catch and drive before a Hannam penalty secured three further points for a 21-0 interval lead.
Kenilworth opened the second half with the same power and intensity they had shown in the first, moving the ball left and right through several phases.
Four minutes into the half Mikkel Andresen drove over the line to score.
The conversion was missed but the try gave Kenilworth a healthy lead at 26-0, securing the bonus point in the process.
Stourbridge continued to push hard, testing Kenilworth’s defence once more with several sustained attacking phases and their reward came 30 minutes into the second half with a converted try in the right corner.
However, less than ten minutes later, following another powerful Kenilworth scrum, scrum-half Gareth Renowden scored the final try of the match.
Thompson’s conversion fell just under the bar as Kenilworth opened the new season with a convincing victory.