Midlands League 3
Kesteven were looking to keep the pressure on league leaders Loughborough as Belper made a welcome return visit to Woodnook.
Kesteven welcomed back Will Aspinal James Cowley and Ken Lines to the starting line-up, while Ed Bloodworth and Rob Windsor took their places on the bench.
Kesteven had first use of the teasing wind and got off to a great start, showing their intent in playing fast open rugby. After a couple of early breaks, they opened the scoring with a fine score. The ball was worked out right and Justin Dingley made strong ground before sending Aspinal in for the try. Whittaker added the conversion from far out.
This settled the home team and they enjoyed some fine moments with great interplay between forwards and backs, but too often the final pass went astray. Eventually they were able to complete a move. This time Tom Miles broke clear and ran strongly for the corner. He was stopped just short but was able to off load to the supporting Whittaker who picked the ball up off his toes to score.
For the rest of the half, Kesteven kept playing open rugby but they found a very strong Belper defence keeping them out. Osborne retired with a slight injury to be replaced by Odams, then at the break Bloodworth replaced Lines.
The second half started with Kesteven maintain their attacking game, with a very strong performance by the pack. They dominated possession with the visiting pack going backwards in the scrums. Despite all this possession Kesteven still found it difficult to find a way through.
Miles and Bloodworth both went close before some fine interplay between Ollie Hughes and Dan Turner saw Dan held up just short. Ollie Hughes was on hand to wrest the ball clear and go over for the try.
Belper continued to play well in attack and were rewarded for their efforts with a try to narrow the gap.
The difficulty with the home backs getting the ball clear was causing some frustration, but a switch between Olly Wood and Justin Dingley between 10 and 9 paid immediate dividends. The ball was moving out to the three-quarters quicker and, from one such move, Dingley was able to exploit the extra space to find a route through to the line for the bonus point try. Whittaker added the conversion to seal a good win.
Windsor came on for Cowley and Odams returned to the field in place of Purvis. The pack laid the foundation with a dominant display. It was good to see Cowley coming back to his best with some strong runs. Sheardown continues to lead the side well in the continued absence of Webster.
In the backs, Dingley gave a man of the match performance, first at scrum half, then at stand off. Aspinal took his try well while Goodrich tackled well and Whittaker showed great composure to score his try.
Kesteven: Whittaker, T Miles, Aspinal, Goodrich, O. Hughes, Wood, Dingley, Osborne, Sheardown, Purvis, Tweddle, Cowley, Dent, Lines, Turner. Reps: Bloodworth, Odams, Windsor.
l This week the team enjoys a festive break before entertaining Rugby Lions in the RFU Senior VasE at Woodnook on January 2.