RUGBY: Strong first half sees Kesteven to league opening victory

Weekend rugby union preview.
Weekend rugby union preview.

Midlands League 3

East (North)

Lincoln 18

Kesteven 24

A strong first half was enough for Kesteven to come through in their first league match of the new season.

A fair but overcast day greeted Kesteven’s first XV squad on their first visit to Lincoln’s new ground. A very wide pitch together with high quality facilities made for a great setting for the league opener.

Early pressure from Lincoln was kept at bay by secure Kesteven defence. Soon after, the Black Army started making inroads with limited possession.

On one particular occasion, Lincoln re-gathered the ball close to their own line and made what appeared to be a good clearing kick. The ball however landed nicely in Whittaker’s hands and set up the opportunity for him to beat four men on his way under the posts. The extra points were kicked by Cann.

Lincoln, perennial league high flyers, did down after this early score. Pushing hard, they were awarded a penalty after fly half Wood was deemed to be off his feet when contesting for the ball.

The Black Army were feeling their way into the game by now. A loose ball was grubbered through by Turner and collected smartly by Taylor. True to form, Taylor beat two players to score again under the postsm making it an easy conversion for Cann.

Taylor made another break down the left, stepping inside when unable to beat the final defender, he then kept his feet and neatly offloaded to the onrushing Webster who crashed through to score. Cann’s conversion attempt was successful from wide out.

Five minutes later, gaining some possession, Lincoln made a midfield break from first phase. After a couple of phases and a quick penalty, they scored out wide to close the scores to 21-8.

The scrappy nature of the second half soon resulted in Kesteven being awarded a penalty near the halfway line. Cann, with his prestigious kicking boots on, nailed the kick from distance with aplomb.

Lincoln’s strong maul was a weapon all day and true to form they turned some good field position and sloppy Kesteven lineout work into a try near the 60-minute mark, followed by the two extra points.

Kesteven: Odams, Sheardown, Purvis, Cowley, Pert, Webster (c), Sayle, Turner, Draper, Wood, Taylor, Cann, Ede, Jepson, Whittaker. Reps: Templeton, Jordan, Young.

Midlands League 4

East (North)

Skegness 7

Bingham 18

Jonathan Thomas and Dave Fairchild scored decisive first half tries to help Bingham overcome Skegness.

Bingham kicked off playing with the wind and showed excellent continuity, keeping the ball in hand and were rewarded with a penalty on six minutes, slotted by Will Packer.

A second Packer penalty came on 12 minutes after a powerful run from Callum Davidson which led to Skegness laying on the ball and preventing quick possession to Bingham.

The key breakthrough came on 20 minutes after Thomas picked from inside the Bingham 22 and linked with the backs, taking play into the Skegness half where a penalty was kicked to touch. The lineout was won and forward continuity had Dan Bartram a metre short before Thomas picked and scored. Packed kicked the extra points for a 13-0 lead.

Just before half time, Packer kicked to the corner and from the lineout and drive Dave Fairchild went over.

Skegness pulled seven points back 15 minutes into the second half when a break from their fly half led to a an overlap and linked with the winger to score in the corner. The kick was good.

Another break and great cover tackle from Packer prevented a score, and another missed penalty by Skegness saw Bingham concede no further points.

Notts Pennant League

Group Two

Kesteven 2nd 23

Lincoln 2nd 16

Captain Andy Peabody led out a Kesteven side strengthened by the introduction of newcomers Andrew and Mark Clift-Hill, and a welcome return home for Rupert Jordan.

Patrick Crane affirmed his promise of last week with a fine hat trick of tries, but it was Lincoln who were first on the scoreboard with a penalty from 35 metres.

Ks had willing runners out wide in Jordan and Crane and it was not long before they took the lead. Sharp passing out to the right wing found newcomer Crane in space. He rang strongly to the corner and was able to force his way over for his opening try.

The home team tackled well but sometimes illegally and Lincoln slotted over a second penalty to regain the lead.

Back came Kesteven and after a frenetic period of attack in which Lincoln conceded a number of penalties, they eventually opted to kick the goal and Parker popped it over from close range.

Lincoln again worked play into the Kesteven half and won a penalty far out on the left. The kicker looked weary but was able to squeeze the ball just inside the post and over the bar.

The forward battle became a bit more tasty and it erupted and saw a player from each side despatched to the sin bin. Crucially, the visitors were penalised and Kesteven took a quick tap. The ball was moved swiftly to the right and again found Crane free on the wing, and he ran in easily to score in the corner to give Kesteven a 13-9 half time lead.

The second half was only minutes old when Crane completed his hat trick. A Lincoln handling move broke down and Crane raced on to the loose ball. He kicked ahead before collecting the bouncing ball and forcing his way out of the last tackle to score.

Ben Betts put in one great kick to set up an attacking position. Jordan Smith went over from close range but was deemed to be held up. Then Smith again broke through but crucially took on the last defender instead of freeing Parker who was in good position to score.

Lincoln had an excellent and elusive wing who had seen little of the ball. He got one chance and took it well, running in from distance to score at the post. The conversion narrowed the gap to two points with 15 minutes left.

Kesteven showed great resilience and were rewarded when Sam Danford stormed through on Lincoln’s line out to grab the ball and force his way over for his first senior try.

Young Matt Grinney came on at full back for Rob Cooper and had one long range penalty which just failed.

Lincoln again rallied and tried everything to get an equalising score, with Kesteven relieved to hear the final whistle to secure a win that should have been more convincing than the score suggests.

Kesteven: Dingley, Crane, Betts, Windsor, R. Jordan, Parker, Morgan, P. Dolan, Luke, M. Clift-Hill, A. Clift-Hill, Hanson, Vincent, Armstrong, Peabody. Reps: Cooper, Danford, Smith, Grinney.

Under-15

Kesteven 56

Stamford 5

Kesteven started the season well with the summer’s hard training paying dividends.

From the outset ,Ks stuck to their game plan and were rewarded, running in 10 tries throughout and making a very capable and brave Stamford side spectators for large parts of the game.

With Watkin and Yeomans making their debuts, Kesteven’s forwards secured consistent possession at scrum and lineout, giving the Black Army backs the freedom to run at the opposition defence. Centres Brighten and Edwards were particularly effective in providing wingers Brenton, Yeomans and Palin with the space needed to show the Stamford backs a clean pair of heels.

Not to be outdone in the try scoring stakes, back row dynamos Kwasau and Fuller carried strongly for tries of their own, and captain Taylor, who was heavily involved throughout with ball in hand, also got on the scoresheet.

Second rows Watkin and Hughes dominated the lineouts and, with fly half Brewis dictating play for the backs, the scoreboard rattled along all game.

Kesteven: Archer, Brenton (1 try), Brewis (1), Brighten, B. Cole, J. Cole, Cox, Edwards, Fuller (2), Hodgson, Hughes, Kwasau (1), Parr, Palin (2), Peters, A Tapson (3 cons), T Tapson, Taylor (1), Watkin, Yeomans (2).