Midlands League 2
Kesteven were badly in need of a win to prevent them slipping any further down the league table as they welcomed Stamford to Woodnook on Saturday – but it was not to be.
Stamford kicked off and were the first to put points on the board. The visitors spread the ball wide and caught the Kesteven defence short. Several missed tackles allowed one of the Stamford locks to crash over the Kesteven line for an unconverted try in less than five minutes.
Stamford picked up two dubious penalties on the 13th and 18th minute, both of which found their way over the post to extend the lead to 11-0.
Kesteven responded when, on the Stamford 22m, number eight Martin Carew picked up from the scrum and passed to Adam Draper who released James Goodrich to dance past several Stamford defenders and touch down.
Stamford ran their attack straight back at Kesteven from the kick-off and it was not long before they were awarded another penalty within kicking distance that was duly slotted.
The visitors then scored a further unconverted try after 30 minutes. Once again, the Kesteven defensive line was slow to cover the pitch and a clever cross-field kick caught them short and Stamford raced home for a 24-5 half time advantage.
The second half saw the young Kesteven side begin to gel and find their rhythm. Stamford were forced to clear their lines several times and one such clearance was charged down by Scott Odams and Alex Ingram gathered the ball and touched down for his first try in Kesteven senior rugby.
The visitors found their way through a once again disorganised Ks defence to increase their lead to 31-10.
The last 15 minutes of the game saw Kesteven furiously putting together various strings of attacks and keeping play confined to the Stamford half of the pitch.
In the last few minutes, from the back of a ruck, Adam Draper passed to Martin Carew who made his way through a dog legged Stamford defence, shrugging off two tackles, to touch down under the posts for Kesteven’s third try which Matt Harland was easily able to convert.
Ks stepped up a gear for the last few minutes of the game, desperately searching for a further try to secure a bonus point, but it was not forthcoming.
Kesteven: Odams, Hayward, Cowley, Sayle Jnr, Peabody, Midgely, Woolerton (c), Carew, Draper, Harland, Taylor, Goodrich, Ingram, P. Jordan, Whitaker; Reps: Turner, Ballaam, J. Hughes
Kesteven travelled to Ashbourne realistically expecting to be on the wrong end of the scoreline, but gave the reigning Notts, Lincs and Derbys champions a run for their money on Sunday.
Ashbourne started very strongly and converted their first chance for an early try after weak tackling from the visitors.
Kesteven’s heads did not drop and they played their own brand of hard, aggressive rugby. The forwards gained possession and used it well with Curtis Taylor and Josh Kwasau going close to touching down in the first half.
But during one of these attacks, the ball was spilled forwards and Ashbourne once again broke against the pattern of play and scored a second try midway through the first half.
Ks dominated play in the second half with centres Harry Bartlett and Joe Brighten causing havoc in the Ashbourne defence.
Scrum half Devlin Archer spotted an opportunity to run from a scrum deep into Ashbourne’s half. He drew the defence and pinged a lovely pass to the rampaging Brighten who, when held up a metre short of the line, was able to offload to winger Zac Spriggs to touch down in the corner for a well deserved try.
Half backs Tom Edwards and Archer continued to cause problems for Ashbourne as forwards Fuller, Hughes and Peters carried strongly, breaking the gainline and battering an exhausted home side.
This continued throughout the second period and the whistle saved an increasingly panicky Ashbourne who bundled the ball into touch to prevent an equalising score at the death.
Kesteven: Archer (c), Bartlett, Brenton,Brewis, Brighten, J. Cole, B. Cole, Cox, Edwards, Fuller, Hodgson, Hughes, Kwasau, Palin, Peters, Rogerson, Spriggs, A. Tapson, T. Tapson, Curtis Taylor.