Notts Pennant League
Kesteven 2nd 26
Bakewell 2nd 12
Saturday saw Kesteven’s second team play their rearranged home fixture against a Bakewell side immeasurably stronger than the one they defeated away earlier in the season.
Easter holidays meant a number of regulars were unavailable but captain Andy Peabody was still able to select what looked like a strong squad on paper. It was a good day for rugby and with a larger than usual crowd watching, the seconds were eager to put on a show.
Surprisingly, following the long trip from Bakewell, it was the visitors that took the early initiative with Kesteven seemingly struggling to adapt to the pace of the game. Bakewell were looking to use their big and athletic back line who looked as though they had consumed more than a couple of protein shakes between them, but the initial defence from the Black Army stood up well.
Kesteven’s pack were looking strong in the set-piece and won the first scrum against the head to set up an attacking platform from there. A break up the middle of the field was well supported and Kesteven managed to get a foothold in the visitors 22.
Quick recycling of the ball allowed Richard Armstrong to spot a gap in the defence and he sneaked through through for the first try close to the posts. Tom Price kicked the extra points.
Bakewell seemed rocked by this, obviously convinced they had the better of play, and looked to strike back. This led to Kesteven conceding a number of penalties, two of these were in kickable positions but both sailed just wide.
With the penalty count mounting, it was not long after when Dan Singer was given a yellow card for mounting team offences. Bakewell were looking to capitalise on the advantage and were winning more possession, but their finishing seemed far from precise as they butchered a couple of easy try scoring opportunities.
Their woes were further compounded when Price ruthlessly kicked a penalty five minutes before the end of the half to give Ks a deserved 10-0 half time lead.
Peabody took the chance to freshen things up at half time and made a number of changes, but the resolve and message was to starve the opposition of possession and to make the most of their own.
Bakewell came out for the second half full of intent and were soon putting pressure on the Kesteven line. Following an uncharacteristic missed tackle in midfield, the Bakewell fly half showed great strength and pace to finish a good try in the corner.
Kesteven tore straight back at Bakewell. Price was varying play well and putting pressure on the opposition’s changed full back and, following a loose kick, Betts made a strong return through the middle.
Following a couple of forward drives, the ball was worked to the left wing where Joe Ryder showed great pace to finish a spectacular score in the corner.
With Bakewell coming under more and more pressure, they quickly conceded two penalties which allowed Price the chance to extend the home side’s lead and he duly obliged to give Kesteven a healthy looking 21-5 lead.
Bakewell had a particularly strong runner who, having moved from full back to the centre for the second half, was always looking to break the line. He managed this just once and raced his way past all the Kesteven defenders to score close to the posts. This time there was no mistake with the conversion.
Kesteven looked to finish the visitors off and were soon on the attack again. Having generated a huge overlap, Price finished off a superb individual display by taking the ball on himself to score the killer try.
With the conversion the last kick of the match, it was just missed but Ks had taken without doubt what was felt as the best victory of the season.
There have been closer games, victories with larger scorelines and certainly more disappointing games for the seconds this season but, given the obvious strength of the opposition, this was the most impressive performance of the season.
The side played with confidence and fluency on the most part and, following the first quarter, gained control of possession and territory, and looked to control the pace of the game.
There were a number of outstanding performances during the game, but man-of-the-match was awarded to Dan Singer for a powerful display from the young second row.
Next week sees Kesteven travel to Lincoln for their final away match of the season.
Kesteven: Jason, Allen, T. Smith, Singer, Hanson, Armstrong, Durrance, Cole, Lines, Price, Betts, P. Jordan, Cooper, Charles, Ryder. Reps: Osbourne, Vincent, Payne, Grinney, Midgley, Cheetham.