Midlands League 3
Kesteven welcomed Lincoln to Woodnook in the final league match of the season.
Lincoln needed a bonus point win to secure promotion while Kesteven were looking to finish their season on a high.
Early exchanges were tight as the teams sized each other up. Both sides had chances, with the Kesteven pack showing some good strength, but there were too many errors with the two teams unable to retain the ball.
Lincoln drew first blood after about 20 minutes. They won clean possession in midfield and made a break down the left which ended with their centre going over for the opening try.
Taylor had looked good early on but he left the field with an ankle injury. He was replaced by Will Cann who was returning after a long injury break.
Kesteven responded well to the opening score. Goodrich had a fine run but was just unable to beat the last defender. Lincoln, however, conceded a penalty and Cann stepped up to open Kesteven’s account.
But Lincoln finished the half stronger and added a second try just before the break. Again they made ground down the left for the wing to go over and score behind the posts. A simple conversion opened up a 12-3 lead at the break.
Taylor returned to the fray to replace Cartwright on the wing, whilst Lincoln started the second half strongly and moved into the home 22 area.
Kesteven were penalised in front of the posts and Lincoln took the points to extend their lead.
Ks’ moment of the match came after 10 minutes. The forwards had a few moves up their sleeves and were passing well. The ball was moved out to Gav Purvis who made a break on halfway and stormed upfield.
It looked like he was able to finish the move himself but he was stopped just short. The ball was quickly recycled and moved out left where Odams and Payne forced it over the line. Payne was credited with the score and Cann produced an excellent kick.
Kesteven had a sense that Lincoln were slipping off the pace and a further move with forwards out in the backs saw Cowley break through and put in a delicate chip which had the defence in a panic. From the resulting scrum, Ks got a great shove on and Addlesee nipped in for the try to tie the scores.
Lincoln hardly knew what hit them as Kesteven turned the screw. The pre-match practice with the forwards on their running lines was really paying off as yet again they opened up the visitors.
This time Odams made the half-break and Cowley scampered in with obvious delight to score.
The Kesteven tactic of playing the game at pace was rewarded again when Addlesee took a quick tap penalty. Mark Sayle was in close support to go in under the posts for the try. Cann added the goal points and Kesteven had run up 24 unanswered points in 20 minutes to lead 27-15 with 10 minutes remaining.
Lincoln finally roused themselves and worked a third try, again in the left corner. The conversion failed, crucially.
Lincoln were moving the ball better than at any time in the game as the clock ticked down and they scored one final try just before the end with some fine handling and the move ended with a superb off-load. Again the conversion attempt was missed to give Kesteven a well-deserved win.
Kesteven: Whittaker, Cartwright, Aspinall, Goodrich, Taylor, Wood, Addlesee, Sheardown, Payne, Purvis, Pert, Cowley, Webster, Bloodworth, Sayle. Reps: Cann, Odams, Lines.
Notts Pennant League
Lincoln 2nd 19
Kesteven 2nd 35
Kesteven’s second string travelled to Lincoln’s new Nettleham ground full of confidence following the previous week’s superb outing against Bakewell.
Playing with the strong wind behind them in the first half, Ks were soon on the attack, though scoring took its time in coming, but eventually Dan Singer picked up from where he left the previous week’s game and thundered over for the opening try.
Kesteven looked to push home their advantage and the ball was worked to Rob Cooper who showed pace and strength to run 40 metres before he offloaded back inside to the supporting Rob Windsor who completed a classy try.
Lincoln were shocked into life and won a five-metre scrum. The abrasive number eight picked up and managed to force his way over.
Undeterred by this, Kesteven came straight back and won their own scrum close to the Lincoln line, having been held up over the line. A blindside move saw a Phil Jordan special as he passed the ball between his legs for Joe Ryder to finish in the corner, giving K’s a comfortable 15-5 half time lead.
Against the wind in the second half, Ks knew they needed to stamp their authority and were soon putting Lincoln under pressure. Using strong forward drives, Des Friel took man and ball to give Kesteven a commanding 20-5 lead.
But Ks took their foot off the gas and Lincoln took full advantage to score two great tries, converting both to threaten an unlikely comeback at 20-19.
Kesteven did not panic and with their scrum getting ever stronger, forward domination provided decent ball and forced Lincoln to commit penalty offences. From one penalty, the always aware Simon Morgan took a quick tap and showed great pace in his borrowed boots to go over for the killer try.
With Lincoln tiring, Ks found gaps in their defence. Firstly, Tom Price showed classy stepping ability, combined with great pace, to score an individual try. And then Matt Grinney spotted a gap on the blindside and showed fantastic pace to outstrip the last defender and score at the corner.
Kesteven: Cole, Betts, Mawby, Singer, Hanson, Danford, Armstrong Peabody, Morgan, Price, Ryder, P. Jordan, Cooper, Charles, Windsor. Reps: P. Dolan, Taylor, Smith, Friel, Cheetham, Ward, Grinney.