RUGBY: Kesteven unable to return to winning ways

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Midland League 3

East (North)

Kesteven 26

Belper 31

Storm Brian had largely bypassed Grantham as Kesteven set out to get back to winning ways against a Belper side who were looking to climb up the table.

Again Kesteven were forced into late changes when Hall called off sick. Fuller came in on the wing with Lines dropping to full back. In the pack, Pert and Cann replaced Pirie and Stokes respectively.

Kesteven were quick to show the power of the pack despite facing the wind, but it was Belper who struck first. There didn’t appear to be any danger but somehow the visitors spotted a gap and exploited it to go over for the opening try which was converted.

Play evened out with no real chances. Turner was yellow carded for killing the ball. Showing consistency, the referee gave similar treatment to a Belper player.

Belper adjusted better to the changes when they added a second converted try to open up a 14 point lead. This still left Kesteven with plenty of hope to recover and when Cowley got possession out on the wing, he stormed up field. When he was challenged, he put a perfect inside pass to Galloway who ran in from 40 metres to score a try which he converted.

A seven point deficit at the break with the wind behind them should have been comfortable for Kesteven, but Belper had other ideas. The visitors doubled their score in the first 10 minutes in the half with two more tries.

This obviously made the home task much more difficult but not insurmountable. They were not helped with a second yellow card, this time for a dangerous tackle by Brown. Just before he returned, Turner produced a typical moment as he linked well with Galloway to score. Galloway converted and Ks had 20 minutes to rescue the situation.

Belper were streetwise, however, and when they were awarded a penalty 30 metres out they sensibly took the points to stretch their lead.

Belper began to tire and Kesteven at last got their act together. Turner and Galloway combined well again for Turner to get his second try, then Galloway intercepted a Belper pass in his own half and ran clear to score in the corner. This narrowed the gap to five points with five minutes left.

The last five minutes saw Kesteven mount attack after attack. Belper conceded a number of penalties but the importance of the penalty they converted meant that they had just enough of a lead to hold on for the win.

It was a disappointment for Kesteven. Tom Webster had a great game seemingly all over the field, while Cowley and Pert had some good power runs. In the backs, Draper and Galloway formed a strong half back partnership while Turner is enjoying working with Galloway on the 10/12 axis.

This week Kesteven welcome St Ives, from Cambridgeshire, in the RFU Senior Vase, kick-off 2 30pm. Kesteven 2nd XV have a home match against Cresswell Crusaders.

Kesteven: Lines, H Fuller, Windsor, Turner, Cox, Galloway, A Draper, Brown, Sheardown, Purvis, Pert, Cowley, Cann, Armstrong, Webster. Reps: Tweddle, Pirie, Price.