RUGBY: Solid win for Kesteven in league opener against Melbourne

Aaron Whittaker ran in two tries for Kesteven on Saturday. Photo: 742B

Aaron Whittaker ran in two tries for Kesteven on Saturday. Photo: 742B

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Midlands League 3

East North Kesteven 17

Melbourne 0 KESTEVEN welcomed the return of Tony Woolerton to the squad and gave a first team debut to Will Bradley in their opening league game of the season. A tough game was expected against a young Melbourne side that finished fourth in the league last season.

Kesteven won the toss and opted to play with the strong wind behind their backs. This helped with field position and the majority of the half was spent attacking the Melbourne line.

A strong scrum and some great work in the loose gave Ks plenty of possession. The back row was particularly effective in both securing and turning over ball at the break down.

Rob Cooper made a great break and popped the ball inside to James Goodrich who was unlucky to be held up just short of the line. The breakthrough eventually came when Aaron Whittaker fielded a loose clearance kick and linked with Cooper who attacked the broken Melbourne defence and passed back to Whittaker who beat three defenders to score a great try in the corner. Harland was just short with the difficult conversion.

Olly Wood controlled the game well at scrum-half and linked well with Phil Jordan on the right hand side of the pitch. Jordan chipped inside for the supporting players but the bounce just went the wrong way and the try went begging.

Several more chances were created but the final ball did not quite go to hand and the score remained 5-0 at half time.

Kesteven knew they would be up against it in the second half, with the wind behind Melbourne and their strong kicking fly-half. For half an hour this was how the game went and only excellent defence from the Black Army kept Melbourne out. This included several crunching hits that left the Melbourne players wincing.

Harland helped clear the lines with some solid kicks and the front five made some good hard yards up front. Bradley made a couple of excellent runs on his debut to relieve the pressure, and Turner was unlucky to miss with a shot at goal into the wind.

Jack Gordon came on for Will Pert and won some good line-out ball, and was unlucky not to score when he touched the ball down just short of the line, supporting a strong break by Goodrich.

Eventually the second try came and it was Whittaker again who beat his man on the outside to score in the corner. Again the conversion was just short.

This settled Ks and the game was killed off with a fantastic try. The front five won a heel against the head on their own 22. Turner picked up from the base of the scrum and ran 80 metres as he outpaced the Melbourne backs to score under the posts. Turner then kicked the conversion to seal victory.

Kesteven: Cooper, Whittaker, Bradley, Goodrich, P. Jordan, Harland, Wood, Odams, Brown, Hayward, Cowley, Pert, Peabody, Woolerton, Turner. Reps: Paton, Gordon, R. Jordan.