Kesteven triumph in their first home game of the season
Midlands 3 East North
Kesteven men’s first XV welcomed Mellish for their opening home league match of the season.
Sporting Kesteven’s cherished black jerseys, this year bearing the name of the club’s main sponsor, local wealth-management firm Price Whiting Hodgson, the squad gave first team debuts to Ben Bailey and Matt Grinney, and welcomed captain Gavin Purvis, Tom Webster and Martyn Parker to the team.
With the sun shining after the morning rain, the match started off at a cracking pace. Gavin Purvis fielded the kick-off and immediately showed intent with a strong run upfield.
The game opened up quickly and Mellish were able to make the first telling break. They won clean ball half way and fed it quickly out to their speedy wing on the left, who ran in for the opening try.
Ks reacted in the best way by taking play into the visitors’ 22. From a scrum out on the left, they passed the ball to Will Wood who completed the move in style for a technically perfect try. However, the conversion was missed.
Kesteven soon settled into a pattern of maintaining possession and keeping Mellish pinned back. It was no surprise when Dan Turner, playing in his old position of centre, worked his way over the line for the second try.
Parker converted as he did a few minutes later when Bibby crossed for the third.
This one owed to the quick thinking of Turner who took a quick tap penalty near half way and ran strongly into the 22. When he was stopped, Cameron Bibby was on hand to pick up and score. This took the score to 19-5 at the break.
Matt Grinney came on to play centre with Turner moving back to number eight and Webster came off.
Kesteven started the second half as they ended the first – playing at pace.
Jack Palin, who had looked good, suffered a freak injury when he twisted his knee in open play and was replaced by Jinks with Turner moving back to centre.
This seemed to unsettle the home team and, despite having all the territory, it was Mellish who scored with two quickfire tries, both from their own 22. One was converted to narrow the gap to two points with 20 minutes left.
Purvis gathered his troops and reset the mindset. The team responded, gaining control of the set-piece again and keeping the speedy Mellish backs quiet. Ed Cole came on for Norsworthy who had earned his rest.
The next try came from another perfectly timed pass from Grinney, which found Turner on his outside. Turner was able to come off the wing and turn the full back to score his second. This time Grinney added the goal points.
It was all Kesteven now. Draper ran clear, but failed to ground the ball, before Cole rounded things off with the fifth try. Grinney converted to bring up an impressive win.
This was a great performance by this young team. The teenage second row of Norsworthy and Bailey dominated the line-out, and Will Pert had a storming game. Bibby took his try well and is settling into the back row.
In the backs, Draper was always busy at scrum half while Parker used his experience to keep the three quarters well served. Brothers Olly and Will Wood teamed up well together, while Eagle is showing great promise.
It was good to get the first win under their belt and sets them up in their quest to get to the upper end of the league.
Kesteven: Palin, Eagle, Turner, O. Wood, W. Wood, Parker, Draper, Pert, Sheardown, Purvis, Bailey, Norsworthy, Bibby, Armstrong, Webster. Reps: Cole, Jinks, Grinney.
Right from the start, the boys in black made their intent clear, with Plant taking the ball cleanly at the kick-off and making easy metres, red jerseys tumbling in his wake.
Relentless pressure on the Moderns defence saw Kesteven work the ball steadily upfield and after five phases, the ball moved swiftly through the hands to see full back Bullement score the first try of the game in the right hand corner.
An almost carbon copy move some four minutes later released Poole towards the same corner. A firm challenge saw his progress thwarted but Gilbert, in close support, collected the timely offload to put five more points on the board.
On the re-start, the forwards made ground time and again, with all eight of the pack working in unison to deliver the ball quickly and consistently to the back line. Aggressive and direct, Griffiths, James and Muir powered up the middle of the field, undeterred by the opposition and set up Pilkington for the third try, this time under the posts to it an easy conversion for stand-in kicker Barry.
Maintaining the pressure, Kesteven continued to score at the rate of one try every three minutes up to the fifteenth minute, with slick handling setting Barry up for an easy score, shortly followed by superb balance and footwork from Bullement to see him run in under the posts for his second of the match.
With two substitutions midway through the first half, Kesteven demonstrated their strength in depth with the fresh legs of Jallow and Login making a difference immediately.
The 23rd minute saw Poole picking up the ball in the right midfield and brushing off innumerable challenges to score in the left corner – an outstanding solo try.
Minutes later he was over again, the quick feet of Barry at outside centre cutting inside and drawing two defenders, offloading to Poole outside him to run in without serious opposition for 43-0 at half time.
After further substitutions, the second half saw Kesteven operating at a more modest pace. Solid in defence nevertheless, the Black Army continued to deny Moderns any kind of foothold in the game and it was only a matter of time before the points started to rack up again.
With unrelenting energy, forwards Sheard and Pilkington moved the ball steadily into the visitors’ 22, grinding ruthlessly away at the defence, before Cradduck burst through from close range to power over the line between the posts.
Twelve minutes into the second half, with the score at 50-0, the referee brought the game to a close and awarded the victory to Kesteven.