Kesteven travelled to Ashby expecting a tough match against a side sitting on place above them in the league.
Midlands League 3
It was a damp day, and the small, heavy pitch made for a battle up front. Ashby started stronger and made good inroads through their forwards and kept possession well.
They were rewarded with an early penalty which was converted to give a 3-0 lead. Kesteven came back well and started to hold their own in the scrums and turn over ball at the breakdown. The lineout was a good source of possession all day. After about half an hour Odams came on to the back row for Sayle, who had taken a knock to the shoulder.
Some pressure in the Ashby half led to three penalty chances before half time. All three were struck well, two by Parker and one by Hudson, to give Ks a 9-3 lead at the break.
Carew came on for Pert at half time and Ks started the half well. They created a lot of pressure in the Ashby half and Odams went close after breaking away from a maul.
When Ashby attacked, Ks’ defence was solid with Hudson and Whittaker putting in some particularly impressive hits on the opposition runners. From a chip over the top, Ashby forced Kesteven to concede a penalty, which was converted to bring the game to 9-6.
Seventeen-year-old Joe Berry came on with 20 minutes to go, making his first team debut after some strong performances for the second string.
The game could have gone either way, but Ks kept Ashby pinned in the corners and defended well when needed and they held on for the win.
Although, not a pretty win it was important in the context of the season and took QV Foods-sponsored Kesteven above Ashby into second place in the league.
Man of the match was Tom Webster.
Kesteven: Whittaker, P. Jordan, Hudson, Goodrich, Taylor, Parker, Wood, Sheardown, Brown, Purvis, Pert, Cowley, Webster, Sayle, Turner. Reps: Odams, Carew, Berry.
Notts Pennant League
Kesteven 2nd 12
Coming off four convincing wins, Kesteven expected the usual order of service. Used to dominating in the forwards, Ks were tested in what proved to be as tight a game as anyone could expect, as both teams struggled to get the upper hand.
The home side expected their fine back division would be able to run free but the Ashbourne pack held sway. There were few chances in an even first half.
For much of the second half, the packs dominated and eventually Ashbourne broke through with a try.
This spurred the home team to greater efforts but still they found it difficult to find space and break the game line. They were finally rewarded 10 minutes from time when newcomer Brad Jepson broke away down the left wing and scored a fine try in the corner. Harland’s conversion attempt failed but Kesteven at last had the belief that they could win.
Ks threw the ball about, sometimes riskily, before Harry Martin took possession just inside his own half. He set off on a mazy run which finished with a try at the posts to give Harland the simplest of conversions.
Kesteven: Harland, Windsor, Hughes, Dent, R. Jordan, Martin, Morgan, Paton, Login, P. Dolan, Hanson, Hayward, Midgely, Hughes, Peabody. Subs: A. Price, J. Smith.