RUGBY: Kesteven clinch promotion to set up league title decider

Doug Hayward (left) prepares to lay the ball off to Kesteven team-mate Dan Turner. Photo: 122D
Doug Hayward (left) prepares to lay the ball off to Kesteven team-mate Dan Turner. Photo: 122D
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Midlands League 3

East (North)

Kesteven 80

West Bridgford 12

Kesteven sealed promotion with an emphatic victory to line up a league title deciding match against Melbourne at Woodnook on Saturday.

Ks were expecting a tough encounter as third-placed West Bridgford arrived still with an outside chance of gaining promotion. What happened was a quite spectacular performance of fast, fluent rugby.

The home team got off to the best possible start. West Bridgford kicked off and Kesteven fielded the ball in their own half. A couple of early thrusts produced good clean ball for Danny Turner to take at speed. His break was well supported by Cameron Hudson who ran in from 30 metres to score with just 34 seconds on the clock. Chris Galloway kicked the conversion.

Galloway doubled Kesteven’s lead two minutes later when Turner again broke clear for the line. This time he was stopped just yards short of the line and Galloway was up in support to score. Galloway’s kick was good again.

West Bridgford did get some possession but generally their play was of a more pedestrian nature. In the end, Kesteven weathered that period but again straight running, this time by Goodrich, punched a great hole in the visitors’ defence to create an opening for Hudson’s second after 25 minutes. Hudson added his third with a fine solo run down the wing for the crucial bonus point try. Galloway added another conversion for a 26-0 lead.

West Bridgford continued to try to play rugby and were rewarded with a simple try under the posts to narrow the gap, but Kesteven finished the half on top with a fifth try. Doug Hayward used his experience to keep the ball alive and send Parker in under the posts. Galloway kicked his fourth conversion to take the half time lead to 33-7.

Kesteven turned round with the wind at their backs and set out to enjoy their rugby. First try of the half fell to Goodrich who supported a break by Turner to go in for his first try. Straight from the restart, Turner picked up from the base of the scrum on halfway to race to the line. He unselfishly passed the ball inside to the supporting Olly Wood for the try. Galloway added another conversion.

West Bridgford did have a spell of pressure, forcing Kesteven to concede a number of penalties. Woolerton had 10 minutes in the sin bin and the visitors scored a try in the corner. Ks did not let the numerical disadvantage bother them as they pressed forward again.

Enjoying a resurgence, Graham Smith made for the line and when he was stopped, Odams was in support to score. Parker made good ground to put Will Cann in for a try, and Turner supported a break by Goodrich to go over. Galloway kept up his kicking record with a further three conversions to take the score up to 66-12.

West Bridgford were a tired side now and Kesteven finished the game with two further tries, the first by James Goodrich followed by Danny Turner who crowned an outstanding display with yet another break, which this time he finished himself. Parker was successful with both conversions.

Promoted Kesteven will now meet top of the table Melbourne to decide who becomes champion at Woodnook on Saturday, kick-off 3pm.

Kesteven: Galloway, P. Jordan, Hudson, Goodrich, Taylor, Parker, Wood, Sheardown, Hayward, Purvis, Pert, Cowley, Flear, Woolerton, Turner. Reps: Odams, G. Smith, Cann.