A much-changed Kenilworth progressed into the fourth round of the Intermediate Cup with a comfortable win at Stratford, writes Bruce Doe.
Despite 12 different names on the teamsheet from the previous week’s league victory at Southam, David Ellis’ men scored seven tries to book their place in the next round of the competition.
On a mostly grey but dry day at the County Ground, Kenilworth got off to a positive start, retaining much of the early ball in and around the Stafford 22.
Just before the 15-minute mark, Kenilworth worked through a number of phases before spinning the ball to the left where Adam Clifford stepped inside his man and delivered a tryscoring pass back outside to Dan Retter who touched down in the corner. With the conversion missed, Kenilworth took a deserved 5-0 lead.
From the resulting kick-off, Kenilworth secured tidy ball and a couple of phases later Sam Harrison broke from deep inside the visitors’ half. The flanker made good ground only to be halted ten metres from the home side’s line.
After continued pressure and good attacking work from Josh O’Brien, Kenilworth lost possession, However, Harrison was on hand to rip the ball away from the hosts to regain the ball. A couple of forward pick-and-gos followed before David Bromfield darted over from five metres to double his side’s advantage.
By the 30-minute mark, Kenilworth were in control of the match and another two tries followed, both scored in quick succession by centre Charlie Stevens.
The first came after good work from both forwards and backs which resulted in Stevens running an unstoppable line to score under the posts. Josh Emery added the conversion to take his side up to 17 points.
Stevens’ second try saw the powerful number 12 fall over the line after the ball was won by the forwards. Delightful hands from the backs then took the ball to Stevens to score; one of a number of good team tries. The missed conversion meant that Kenilworth went into the break with a commanding 22-0 lead.
While Kenilworth had controlled the first half, Stafford had continued to be combative throughout and that is exactly how they started the final forty. That approach to the match resulted in the hosts making their first foray of the afternoon into the Kenilworth 22.
However, around fine minutes into the second period, Kenilworth got themselves back on the scoreboard when Bromfield broke away towards Stafford’s try line. The hooker was pulled down just short but second-row Tom Naismith was on hand to quickly pick the ball up and dive over.
Stafford again gritted their teeth and got back into the Kenilworth 22 with the hosts going through numerous phases and drives towards the line. Despite sustained pressure, Kenilworth stood strong, tackling everything that moved, resulting in a turnover that was cleared down the park by Retter.
Kenilworth then started to reassert control only to find themselves on the wrong end of a harsh decision by the referee. Both Mikkel Andreson and captain Bobby Thompson were shown yellows following a scuffle with the very excitable but competent Stafford second-row who was also sin-binned.
The additional man proved useful for the hosts as they pressed hard on the Kenilworth line. They eventually scored out wide for their first and only try of the game. The successful conversion cut Kenilworth’s advantage to 20 points.
With all three sin-binned players reinstated and fresh legs on the pitch for Kenilworth in Sam Williams, Marcus Andrew and Andy Mackenzie, the visitors soon regained control and camped in the Stafford 22 for the remainder of the afternoon.
Kenilworth’s sixth try was scored following a period of sustained forward pressure and picking and driving. Eventually, the ball was spun put wide to the right and a final floated pass from Thompson put Stevens in at the corner for his hat-trick and a 32-7 lead.
From the kick-off, Kenilworth secured possession and immediately returned to the Stafford 22. A good break from scrum-half Gareth Renowden and good hands between Stevens and Williams saw Williams cross the line wide on the left before touching the ball down by the posts.
Emery added the extras to bring the final score up to 39-7.
Given the considerable number of changes it was a good performance by Kenilworth and provides an excellent platform for the top-of-the-table clash at Kidderminster tomorrow.