Midlands League 2
Kesteven were cruelly denied after putting in their best performance of the season in a thrilling encounter at Woodnook.
Kesteven went in front early on when Matt Harland nailed his penalty kick. But it was not long before the visitors had touched down for their first try of the match.
Ks mounted their counter attack with Martin Carew making a strong run from the back of a scrum. Loughborough were penalised for entering the resulting ruck from the side and Harland secured the three points to edge the home side back in front.
The visitors then scored their second try of the match with the conversion once again falling short. Kesteven replied immediately with a strong assault into Loughborough’s half of the pitch. Scrum half Adam Draper found a gap from the back of a scrum and was able to scramble through. Harland successfully converted to restore the Black Army’s lead at 13-10.
Kesteven secured possession from the restart with Dan Turner using a hole in the Loughborough defence to release Will Bradley into space. Bradley pressed forward before passing to Aaron Whitaker who covered the remaining 50m for Ks’ second. Harland again slotted the extra two points to give the home side a 10 point advantage.
Loughborough closed the gap on the brink of half time. Finding quite a few of the Kesteven defence still returning to their feet from several phases of play, they sneaked a converted try before the break to keep the scores close at 20-17.
Ks extended their lead in the opening minute of the second half when an Turner noticed that the opposition’s full back was not at home and kicked the ball deep into the Loughborough half. Whitaker chased and was on hand to skilfully gather the bouncing ball and fall over the line for the try.
Loughborough found themselves a man down from the 57th minute after a sin-binning and Kesteven capitalised when Turner broke the visitors’ line from Adam Draper’s pass from a ruck and touched down under the sticks, securing the all important bonus point. Harland’s kick was good to put the home side 32-17 up.
Back to 15 men, Loughborough threw everything they had at Ks and finally got their reward when a missed tackle in the middle of the field allowed the visitors to secure their bonus point-winning fourth converted try.
Kesteven added to their points tally with five minutes remaining when Carew lured the Loughborough defence and made the offload to Alex Ingram. The young home-grown winger’s dazzling 50m run saw him untouched to the last metre.
Unwilling to surrender, the visitors stretched the tired Kesteven defence and found themselves with a five-man overlap to easily touch down under the posts with four minutes to go.
ithin seconds of the restart, centre James Goodrich received a yellow card, taking the home side down to 14 men for the last few minutes of the game.
A fumbled Kesteven pass saw the ball roll lose in the middle of the field. Adam Draper, barely in reach of the grounded ball, managed to get a toe to kick it towards the touch line but unfortunately the Loughborough wing was able to gather the ball just before the touchline. The winger made good ground before eventually being hauled down by Draper. Kesteven almost regained possession from a ruck in their own 22 but the ball was deemed to have been knocked on.
The visitors then registered a try from another overlap to bring themselves within one point of Ks’ eroded lead.
The whole match now rested on a difficult conversion from the far side of the field and the ball sailed through the posts to leave the Black Army bitterly disappointed.
Man of the match was awarded to Tony Woolerton.
Kesteven: Odams, Hayward, Cowley, Sheardown, Turner, Peabody, Woolerton (c), Carew, Draper, Harland (Cann, 69), Ingram, Goodrich, Bradley, Taylor, Whitaker. Replacements not used: Purvis, Jordan.
Sleaford 2nd 31
Kesteven 2nd 35
Kesteven were looking for a strong start, and they got this with some strong forward play putting pressure on the Sleaford line. The score, however, came from some individual running by Andy Price who used his pace and size to swat Sleaford tacklers aside and score.
The next try was a great team effort and after further pressure, the ball was moved through the soft hands of Nick Clarke and Ian Charles who released Mark Dent. Dent popped the ball back inside to the supporting Jamie Flear who went over.
Third on the scoresheet was Charles who walked in the third try.
Sleaford then came back into the game and scored a good try following some possession in the Kesteven 22.
This fired Ks up and they responded almost immediately when Dent came blind off a ruck and squeezed in at the corner.
Right on half time, Sleaford came back into the game again and scored a second try after some slack Kesteven defending. The conversion was good to make it 20-12 going into the break.
Sleaford were first on the scoresheet after half time with a good try at the sticks which brought them right into the game.
Ks looked a little rattled but managed to work another try through Jordan Hughes following great work from Flear once again. Crucially, the conversion sailed over with Tom Price now on the field.
Shortly after, Sleaford scored another try to close the gap.
Kesteven were awarded a penalty which was slotted by Andy Price but this only reinvigorated a buoyant Sleaford side who scored another try, and then slotted a touchline conversion to take the lead for the first time in the match at 31-30.
The visitors were determined not to let the victory escape following the great play in the first half. Tom Price kicked forward which he followed up and then fed to young wing Chris Roughan.
When he was tackled, the ball was recycled and Kesteven had forged an overlap. Simple hands from Price and Windsor released winger Charles who found some pace from somewhere to beat the covering Sleaford defence and score at the corner and seal a great victory.
Market Deeping 14
Kesteven drew first blood after a high clearing kick by Deeping was fielded in the centre of the field by Kai Winfield, who showed his pace by darting over in the corner from 40 metres out.
Deeping finished the first half the stronger with a try underneath the posts to lead 7-5 at the break.
Into the second half, Ks skipper Jay Radford was judged to have knocked on when it looked certain he had scored. However, Alex Wheeler made sure that the visitors regained the lead with good footwork to evade tacklers and register Kesteven’s second try. Jack Rogerson kicked the conversion.
Deeping then piled on the pressure and eventually forced their way over for a converted try with five minutes left, making the score 14-12 in their favour.
Kesteven’s response was fast and, after Rogerson turned the ball over, Wheeler darted over in the corner to score his second and Kesteven’s third try.
Despite conceding a couple of penalties, Ks defended for their lives to close the game out and record their second win of the season.
Kesteven: McGoughlin, Haggo, Radford, Priest, Jefferies, Warden, Wheeler, Rogerson, Cann, Udom, Winfield, Jakes, Smith, Campion.