Notts Pennant League
Kesteven 2nd 52
Newark 3rd 7
Kesteven’s ‘dog pack’ were the sole representative for senior rugby this weekend as they welcomed Newark 3rd to Woodnook for what is always a tough and bruising encounter. The game did not disappoint in that respect.
It began with rain falling which made for a close forward-dominated first few minutes.
Ks were frustrated as they looked for the early score, as Newark tackled like demons and seemed to be able to stop any meaningful attacks. Just when it seemed Newark might be able to stifle all, Phil Jordan, deputising as skipper in the absence of Andy Peabody, found Dougie Hayward who in turn fed Joe Ryder on the wing for the opening score. Parker kicked the conversion.
Newark’s defence was admirable until just on the half hour mark when Will Aspinall found a gap and offloaded to Ed Cole. Parker again slotted the extras and Ks were comfortable, if not out of sight.
Newark’s response was ferocious, as they continued with their rather stifling yet effective pick and go play, making their way into the homes side’s 22. This bombardment continued for phase after phase and went well over five minutes with Ks’ tough tackling keeping the Newark juggernauts at bay.
Injuries forced Kesteven to utilise their full bench and the half time reshuffle saw Mark Dent make a welcome return to Woodnook, slotting in at scrum half, while Jordan moved to fly half and Rob Windsor came on to the back row.
Leading from the front, Jordan made a break 10 minutes after the interval. With just one man to beat, he found Ryder in support and he completed the try. Matt Grinney slotted the conversion from a difficult angle.
Newark again came back and from a quick tap penalty found their centre who was able to scamper in for their only score.
The home side finished very much the stronger and racked up a further five tries in the last 25 minutes.
First, Cole ran a line through the Newark defence, showing, pace and great footwork, as he beat the helpless full back to score at the posts. Grinney kicked the extra points.
Ben Betts scored following great sweeping work in midfield and an impeccable line run by Rob Windsor. The difficult conversion for this went just wide.
With Newark about broken, the final three tries were scored in the last 10 minutes. Andy cartwright got his obligatory one following good work from Hayward and Vincent, and then Jordan produced a moment of magic with his mesmerising running style, making it impossible for Newark to tackle him.
The last word when to Andy Clift-Hill who ran hard all day and helped soak up many drives from the Newark forwards, so it was just reward when he powered over the line from close range. The last two conversions were expertly kicked by Grinney.
Man of the match was Richard Armstrong.
Kesteven: P. Dolan, Hayward, Mawby, A. Clift-Hill, Vincent, Armstrong, Danford, Bloodworth, Morgan, Parker, Charles, Jordan, Aspinall, Ryder, Carwright, Reps: Debt, Cole, Windsor, Grinney, Betts.
Kesteven continued their unbeaten run this season when they entertained Lincoln on Sunday.
Lincoln are traditionally strong opponents and this team were no different as they possessed a huge pack of forwards and backs with aggression and pace. This being the case, Kesteven needed a strong start and inside centre Harry Bartlett took an early chance well, finding a small gap to squeeze his large frame through and canter 35 metres to score in the first real attack.
Lincoln came back hard but were halted by strong Kesteven forward play, with all playing their part to ensure Lincoln did not benefit from their huge height advantage and dominance in the line-outs.
Ks stuck to their game plan well with back row forwards Fuller, Kwasau and Cox carrying hard. And fly half Brewis marshalled his backs to test the Lincoln defence.
Centres Astley and Bartlett continued to shine in defence, breaking up Lincoln’s back line which allowed prop Josh Peters to muscle his way through half a dozen of their forwards to score Kesteven’s second try before half time.
Lincoln again came at Kesteven strongly early in the second period, but once again the Black Army continued to pressure.
Jake Hughes was held up over Lincoln’s line before his burly second row associate and captain, Curtis Taylor, picked and droved from a metre out to put the game out of Lincoln’s reach.
The latter stages of the game continued in a similar pattern and Zak Spriggs was the grateful beneficiary from silky running and sleight of hand by full back Joe Brighten and scorched over the line in fine style, allowing Brewis an easy conversion.
It was a fantastic team effort and augered well for the team’s NLD Cup game against local rivals Newark in two week’s time.
Kesteven: Archer, Astley, Bartlett, Brenton, Brewis, Brighten, B. Cole, J. Cole, Cox, Edwards, Fuller, Hodgson, Hughes, Kwasau, Moth, Palin, Peters, Salam, Spriggs, Tapson, Taylor, Watkin.