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Grantham's Kesteven RFC teams battled hard with Nottingham-based opposition in hot conditions

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Kesteven Men’s 2nd XV had their first run out of the season on Saturday June 12 against a strong Nottingham Casuals Team.

There were debuts for Neil Robson and Toby Teasdale, the latter having come through the mini and junior ranks and was playing senior rugby for the very first time.

The first try of the match came from a handling error from Casuals resulting in a free kick around the halfway line. Matt Grinney’s long pass cut out many of the pressing defenders and found fly half Martyn Parker. Parker’s kick into the Casuals 22 was chased and gathered by Fuller, who then passed to Ben Hall.

Kesteven 2nd XV contest a line-out away to Nottingham Casuals. (48270190)
Kesteven 2nd XV contest a line-out away to Nottingham Casuals. (48270190)

Hall’s mesmerising footwork deceived the Casuals defence and opened up a path to the try line. Grinney added two further points from the conversion to put Ks 7-0 up.

Just before the drinks break, Parker injured his Achilles and was replaced at fly half by first-team captain Gavin Purvis.

Sustained pressure from Casuals resulted in them spending significant time in the Kesteven 22. Kesteven’s line stayed strong with center Jon Vassello in particular putting in some crunching tackles in defence. The consistent pressure eventually told with the Casuals number 8 crossing the line for the home team’s first try. The conversion was missed to make it 5-7.

Kesteven Ladies contest a line-out, image credit: Tamzin Keenlyside. (48279203)
Kesteven Ladies contest a line-out, image credit: Tamzin Keenlyside. (48279203)

Kesteven responded well with more damaging runs by Fuller, Hall and Teasdale, impressing on his senior debut. However, the final ball too often ended up in the wrong place and possession was conceded as a result. Casuals made this pay with some silky handling resulting in further tries from their winger and two more by their number 8 to complete his hat-trick. With two converted the score at half time was 24-7.

A rejuvenated Kesteven team started the second half well with a big break from fly-half Gavin Purvis who ran down the wing with a surprise turn of pace. He found Vassello with a short pass who then powered over the line to score his first try for the club. The missed conversion meant the score stayed at 24-12.

Hall and Jake Eagle put in impressive defensive displays to ensure the score remained competitive. However, as both teams tired and the effects of the 28 degree heat were felt by all, it was Casuals who managed to break through and score. The resulting conversion was missed leaving the score 29-12 at the final whistle.

Elsewhere, Kesteven Ladies visited West Bridgeford for their second NLD Cup match of the season. Facing a side that have played at the highest level in women’s rugby, hard work from Kesteven ensured the match was competitive throughout with the home side bristling with pace and strength. Kesteven controlled the opening moments of the game gradually gaining confidence when a stray pass was intercepted for a length of the pitch try.

Undeterred, the Black Army found their rhythm with barrelling runs from second row Beth Toone and prop Stacey Spafford and scrum half Kerri Arlando providing fly half Zoe Osborn with plenty of possession. West Bridgford, however, had slightly different plans and their quick defensive line made life very difficult for the Kesteven backs.

There were a number of very pleasing aspects to the match including Irish import Bronagh Dempster’s first try for the club after a barn-storming run from Jade Sheardown and excellent support from Lauren Singer – the move starting from an enormous tackle from debutant Abi Moorhouse who announced her entry to the match with a thud which could be felt in Bingham.

Kesteven’s lineout was dominant throughout with hooker Ruth Holmes connecting with jumper Hannah Dolby with metronomic precision.

Despite their best efforts, Kesteven finished the game 37-5 down, but left Nottingham proud of their efforts.

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