RUGBY: Kesteven seconds given stern test in first game of new year

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Notts Pennant League

Group 2

Kesteven 2nd XV's Mark Dent races away with the ball, with Phil Jordan (left) and Andrew Peabody in the picture. Photo: Graeme Reynolds

Kesteven 2nd XV's Mark Dent races away with the ball, with Phil Jordan (left) and Andrew Peabody in the picture. Photo: Graeme Reynolds

Kesteven 2nd 10

Notts Moderns 2nd 10

Kesteven’s second string were given the sternest possible challenge for the first game of the new year as they took on the league leaders, and the only side to defeat them so far this season, at a cold but bright Woodnook.

The early signs were ominous as Moderns had the better of play, quickly working their way to the home side’s 22, and made a breakthrough for their wily fly half to offload for a try at the posts.

Kesteven came straight back, determined to make amends for the shaky start. Putting the Moderns midfield under pressure created space out wide, but just as the home side thought they may have a breakthrough, the referee pulled play back for an offside decision. Skipper Peabody opted for the shot at goal which was sent wide.

A lineout on the 22 was won by Kesteven’s ever reliable Leo Vincent and well held at the back by Doug Hayward. With the maul at the five-metre line, a stray Moderns player had worked his way to the back of the maul, but Hayward and Ashley Osbourne showed great strength and did not panic as they worked the latter to roll into space on the left hand side. He powered through the remaining two defenders to score a deserved try right in the corner.

Kesteven conceded a raft of penalties to begin the second half and gave Moderns the upper hand. Thankfully in contrast to the first half, Kesteven were able to hold off Moderns early attacks with some outstanding tackling under immense pressure.

As the game ebbed and flowed, Kesteven pulled their way back into the gamet. Following some forward drives, with the back row of Danford, Friel and Cole particularly effective, the ball was spun wide and found Will Aspinall in space. He showed pace and classy finishing skills to put Kesteven 10-5 in to the lead still with only 14 men.

Just as Kesteven may have thought they had held out for a dramatic victory, Moderns had other ideas and showed just why they are topping the league.

With two players prone with injury, Moderns saw a gap on the Kesteven left and the fly half kicked ahead, and the visitors collected the rolling ball and completed the score to level the match.

A nervous two minutes ensued as the Moderns kicker lined up for the conversion. With much relief it sailed wide and the match remained 10-10.

With less than a minute on the clock, Kesteven looked for one final score and just when the overlap had been created, good line speed from Moderns saw that the final pass could not be made and a relieved Moderns side kicked the ball out to end the game with Kesteven very much with the upper hand.

Kesteven: Osbourne, Hayward, A. Clift-Hill, Cole, L. Vincent, Danford, Friel, Peabody, Morgan, Dent, Charles, P. Jordan, Aspinall, Ryder, Windsor, Reps: Addlesee, Tweddle, Singer.

Midlands League 3

East (North)

Notts Moderns 10

Kesteven 66

Kesteven settled into their running multi-phase rugby from the off. The first score came in only the fourth minute when a few forward bursts resulted in Whittaker finding space and setting young Cartwright free for a run in.

Two minutes later, Cartwright scored his second try, this time after a great pick-up from a loose pass. Cutting a great angle, he scored under the posts. Will Cann kicked the conversion with ease.

And in only the ninth minute of the match, Ks scored their third try. This time Mark Sayle scored after the initial break and offload from Scott Odams. This try was converted by Cann to make the score 19-0.

Kesteven then attempted to really open up with a few loose offloads and some drop balls from some overly ambitious play. One of these resulted in a hack through and score from the Moderns inside centre. This was converted to make the score 19-7.

The Black Army realised the error of their ways and tightened things up a little. Some strong forward and clean line breaks from the centres led to Odams and Purvis driving for the line. Purvis got over to touch it down in the 14th minute. Cann converted to make it 26-7.

Notts Moderns did not give up, despite Kesteven securing their bonus point, and kicked a penalty to bring their tally to 10.

Kesteven did not let this faze them, however, and their 15-man game found gaps all over the pitch. Webster released Sayle to race in for his second try of the match. It was converted by Cann on the 27th minute to make the score 33-10.

A huge break by Cowley upfield was followed by an extravagant offload that found Whittaker. He raced in for another converted try.

Kesteven’s consistent attack was leading to the host team conceding multiple penalties. Five metres out, Cowley took a quick tap to go over on the 39th minute. Cann’s kick was good to send Ks into half time leading 47-10.

The game slowed down in the second half with the hosts finding some more determination. But nine minutes in, Odams went over after the initial break from Payne.

Ks enjoyed less possession in the second half, but when they had the ball they used it well. Centre Cann was released to score under the posts on the 65th minute, followed by a successful conversion to make the score 59-10.

On the 74th minute, Cartwright completed a strong game with a great intercept try to round off his hat trick. Cann’s final kick was good.

Man of the match was Mark Sayle for his strong first half performance.

Kesteven: Odams, Sheardown, Purvis, Pert, Cowley, Webster (c) Sayle, Payne, Draper, Wood, Goodrich, Cann, Cartwright, Betts, Whittake. Reps: Parker, Midgley.