Kenilworth continued their good run of form with a strong performance to power past Barkers’ Butts on Saturday for their fourth consecutive league win, writes Peter Jones.
The term ‘game-changer’ is perhaps overused in sport but it would be aptly applied to the decision of experienced former Swansea prop Rhidian Booth to move from his familiar loosehead position to tighthead around 20 minutes into the game.
Until that point the Kenilworth scrum was having a torrid time, with the team struggling for possession and go-forward, while the home side’s superior bulk and power up front was causing massive difficulties.
Booth’s move to the number three position, however, was transformational as it negated Barkers’ sole attacking weapon in their armoury, enabling Kenilworth’s superior athleticism and pace to be exploited.
Once Kenilworth had established parity in the scrums they were able to use their greater pace and athleticism.
The outstanding Charlie Stevens, playing his first senior game at 12, broke the deadlock with a fine individual try before adding a second shortly after for a 10-0 lead.
Winger Harry Philpot then added a third try on the right after an outstanding move from the backs.
Simon Tyler added the extras to extend Kenilworth’s lead to 17 points on the stroke of half-time.
After the break, the visitors were able to fully take advantage of their superior pace and possession, with the superb number eight Mikkel Andresen scoring two tries in quick succession.
The first of these was converted and secured the bonus point, while the second was an outstanding solo effort from 60 metres to give his side a commanding 29-0 lead.
Barkers’ Butts scored their first try of the match after 70 minutes but it was a mere consolation.
Ks second-row Sam Went scored his first try of the season moments later after a magnificent jinking effort, falling over the line from five feet out.
In the final quarter of the game, centre Rhys Jones showed an excellent turn of pace after a superb move from the backline to add a seventh Kenilworth try, with Bobby Thompson converting.
Scrum-half Gareth Renowden then polished off proceedings by adding his name to the scoresheet alongside his nephew Charlie.
The conversion from Thompson brought the scoring to an end.
What was particularly impressive about the victory from a Kenilworth perspective was that Booth and Daniel Minks were not the only players starting in unfamiliar positions.
Rob Thomason made a creditable first XV debut for the season at outside half, while Stevens - many supporters’ choice for man of the match - and Jones were a new pairing in the centre.
Philpot made an outstanding debut on the left wing and such was his enthusiasm to get involved in the game he appeared at times to be playing in most positions from seven upwards.