Midlands League 3
Kesteven welcomed back Tom Webster, James Goodrich and Will Aspinal for this top of the table clash with Loughborough.
There was a teasing cross wind as Kesteven kicked off. It was clear early on that this would be a tough match with the visitors having a strong pack. Loughborough had the upper hand early on and they set up camp in the home half.
It took them 12 minutes to open the scoring when they forced a scrum close to the Kesteven line and drove the home pack backwards. Their number eight picked up to score the opening try which was converted.
Tom Webster was injured trying to stem the tide and he was replaced by Charlie Pirie.
The game became a bit fragmented with lots of mistakes and penalties conceded in equal measure by both sides.
Kesteven had a couple of decent attacks, firstly through Tom Miles who was just squeezed into touch, then Whittaker had a great run from broken play and was stopped just short.
Loughborough had one player sent to the sin bin as the referee lost patience, but Kesteven were unable to take advantage as shortly after Will Aspinal was sent to the bin for interfering at a tap penalty. This time Loughborough kicked the penalty to open up a 10-point lead. It should have been increased to 13 on the break but inexplicably they chose to take a scrum when awarded a penalty in front of the posts. They lost the scrum and the ref blew for half time.
The second half started with a bang as Kesteven ran the kick-off back to Loughborough, with Tweddle and Turner looking full of running. That set the marker for the half and the home team got on the scoresheet after 10 minutes.
Pirie, who was making a great impression, used his strength to good effect to score from close range and Whittaker converted to close the gap.
Loughborough again raised their game and added a second penalty before Kesteven added the try of the match. Turner came on to the ball at pace on halfway and took play up to 15 metres from the line. He sent a perfectly timed pass into Curtis Dingley, who had come on for Parker, and he finished the move with a try at the posts. He added the conversion to take the lead for the first time.
Kesteven were now getting on top and looking to be the better side. They kept play in the Loughborough half and the visitors were conceding more penalties, culminating in the award of a penalty try, converted by Dingley.
Olly Wood left the field with a cut head and Draper came on to finish the game at scrum half. He was obviously delighted to get his chance and played very well in keeping his team going forward.
There was still time for a final flourish. Loughborough broke clear and looked to have a clear run to the line, but the resilient Aaron Whittaker chased the Loughborough player down and a superb tackle dislodged the ball to save a certain try.
Kesteven had the last word when Draper was able to get the ball out to Tom Miles. The young wing showed his growing confidence to run in the important bonus point try which sealed a fine win and moved Kesteven to the top of the league.
Charlie Pirie was named man of the match but there were many other fine contributions in a great team performance.
Kesteven: Whittaker, Miles, Aspinal, Goodrich, Hughes, Parker, Wood, Odams, Sheardown, Purvis, Tweddle, Cowley, Webster, Sayle, Turner. Reps: Dingley, Draper, Pirie.