Grantham's Kesteven Rugby 2s win at Tupton in NLD Cup
Kesteven arrived at Tupton with a mixed team in terms of experience. Ashley Charlesworth was playing his first ever game of rugby having seen the light and converted from American Football. Max Nicklin and Dale Oliver also donned the black jersey for the first time.
Conditions were ideal for a game of rugby, the clouds keeping the temperatures low and the elevated pitch had amazing views over the Chesterfield skyline with the iconic crooked spire of the Church of Saint Mary’s and All Saints clearly visible in the distance.
The game started well for both teams, however, it was the home side that put the first points on the board with some excellent work from the pack who carried well and broke through Kesteven’s defensive line. Tupton added the conversion to make it 7-0.
Tupton continued to make ground through their strong running forwards. However, a miss placed pass was neatly collected by Ollie Lowe and he sprinted down the wing and evaded a last ditch tackle to score in the corner. The try was not converted leaving Kesteven still behind 7-5.
Ben Hall was next to score for Kesteven, picking a ball up on the 10 meter line in the opposition half then dancing around the Tupton defence and their attempted tackles, handing off the last offender to score in the corner. Matt Grinney added the conversion and Kesteven took the lead for the first time 7-12.
Kesteven swiftly followed this up with another try. Harvey Fuller (captaining the side for the first time) carried the ball deep into the Tupton half and Jake Eagle darted through to score under the posts.
Another successful conversion took the score to 7-19. Fuller was yellow carded shortly after for a tip tackle and the quarter ended allowing both teams to take a much deserved drinks break.
Tupton started the second quarter strongly. Kesteven missed a few tackles and allowed Tupton to score. The try was scored under the posts making the conversion a simple task to complete 14-19.
Kesteven continued to enjoy some good possession, however, a number of handling errors at key moments and some more great work by the Tupton forwards resulted in their prop crashing over the line, but unfortunately knocking on at the vital moment.
This pattern of play continued and Tupton took the lead with a converted try to take the score to 21-19 at half time.
Tupton’s forward continued to make inroads into the Kesteven defence after the break and Tupton scored two further tires and a conversion in quick succession, taking the score to 33-19.
Kesteven then managed to turn things around with some rousing words from Jake Eagle and Sean Cummings inspiring a turnaround in the performance. Neat footwork from Jake Eagle and some lovely hands through the backs led to Ollie Lowe score his second try of the day and Matt Grinney adding yet another conversion to make it 33-26.
It was then the Kesteven’s forwards time to shine and some solid counter rucking secured the ball for Tom Wood (who came on as a last minute sub due to injuries) to glide through the Tupton defence before putting the ball down over the try line. Converted again by Matt Grinney who certainly remembered to bring his kicking boots. The game was tied at 33-33 going into the last quarter.
As Tupton tired, Kesteven kept up the pressure. Some strong tackles kept Tupton at bay with Scott Saunders, Jon Vassello and Ash Charlesworth in particular, putting his previous American Football experience into good use, making some bone crunching tackles.
The defensive pressure led to the ball being secured by Kesteven and Will Wood who ran straight through the Tupton defence offloading to Matt Grinney who continued the phase of play passing out to Harvey Fuller on the wing who then scored under the posts making it easy for Matt Grinney to add the further two points. 33-40.
The final Kesteven try was a delight with Jake Eagle sidestepping his way through many Tupton defenders to then put Clive Lindsay through to sprint to the line and score under the post. Another conversion added by Matt Grinney made the final score 33-47. A 14 point advantage to Kesteven in the first leg of this two leg NLD plate final.
Team: Hall, Lowe, W Wood, Vassello, Austen, Grinney, Eagle, Pert, Saunders, Cummings, Osborn, Robson, Fuller (c), Hodgson, Nicklin Subs: Oliver, Charlesworth, Lindsay, Sheardown, Stanton, T Wood.