Midlands League 3
Melton Mowbray 22
Kesteven welcomed league leaders Melton Mowbray to a windy Woodnook for their first home game of the new year.
Whittaker and Lidstone returned to the back division while Woolerton was recalled to the pack.
It was clear from the start that the strong crosswind was going to make open rugby difficult, but it was not long before the visitors drew first blood.
Their scrum half made a darting break on half way and chipped ahead. In the chase to the line, the referee decided that the Melton player had been tackled without the ball and he awarded a penalty try. The conversion was good and Melton had a seven point lead within five minutes.
Kesteven came more into the game and were intent on using their backs. with Goodrich as the spearhead. This week, however, he was not able to break through a resolute defence whose speed into the tackle also made it difficult for the home team to use the pace of their wings and full back.
Melton were able to exert pressure for some spells too, with Kesteven forced to defend their line. Will Cann was caught off-side on the goal line and was despatched to the sin bin for 10 minutes.
During this time, Melton were camped on the Kesteven line but could not break through the thin black line. Cann’s return allowed Kesteven to relieve the pressure and it was their turn to force the game.
Melton started to give away penalties and from one of these, Cann kicked a good goal, judging the flight of the ball perfectly in the wind to give a 3-7 half time score.
Melton kept the ball early in the second half and added to their tally after eight minutes. They won good ball on the home 22 and broke through to score. The conversion was good.
Kesteven did have chances in the second half, with Olly Wood in particular kicking well, but they were not able to add to their score. Melton added a penalty and then, as players tired, the game started to open up.
Cartwright came on for Lidstone, while Osborne and Payne freshened things up in the last 15 minutes.
Cartwright looked lively and went close to winning an interception, and Whittaker had a couple of runs – but the Melton defence was strong.
The visitors added a third try near the end. A three quarter move was stopped by Cann who forced the ball into touch, but from the line-out the Melton pack forced their way over.
Kesteven: Whittaker, Lidstone, Cann, Goodrich, Jepson, Wood, Dingley, Odams, Sheardown, Purvis, Pert, Cowley, Webster, Woolerton, Sayle. Reps: Osborne, Cartwright, Payne.
East Retford 7
East Retford 7-50 Kesteven
Kesteven travelled to East Retford on the back of two impressive wins against Nottingham Moderns and West Bridgford.
Some simple errors in their own 22 cost Ks dearly as Retford registered the first try through their forwards.
Ks responded quickly and good ball retention saw Joe McGonnell release Kai Winfield down the left wing. Winfield still had plenty to do but managed to evade the Retford defence to touch down under the posts and convert his own score.
This kicked Ks into gear and twice Harry Baker set up flanker Tom Priest for a brace of tries to give the Black Army a 17-7 lead.
Retford restarted the match by kicking long, Ks recycled and some excellent handling allowed Joe Letchworth to break clear and draw the Retford full back, allowing Jack Rogerson to run in Kesteven’s fourth try for a 22-7 lead at half-time.
Ks had the wind behind them in the second half and, although Bill Addlesee was sent to the sin bin for dissent, they continued to dominate. Baker delivered a lovely short pass to Rogerson who powered his way through to score his second and Kesteven’s third try.
This was then followed up by a fabulous solo effort by winger Jack Ward who scythed his way through the Retford defence to register his first try of the season. Baker converted both tries.
Winfield added his second of the match after slick handling allowed the big winger to touch down, despite the attention of the Retford defence. Baker’s kick was good.
Retford’s misery was complete when flanker Chris Warden powered forward and offloaded brilliantly to McGonnell who outsprinted the Retford full back to the line to score Kesteven’s eighth try. Winfield’s conversion brought up 50 points.
It was a memorable performance from the Black Army who registered their biggest ever win. In the forwards, Jay Radford, Addlesee and Warden gained the hard yards whilst, in the backs, McGonnell, Josh Udom and Winfield terrorised the Retford defence with ball in hand.
However, man of the match went to Baker who pulled the strings brilliantly at fly-half.
Under-14 NLD Shield
Kesteven narrowly lost a tight NLD Shield pool game in near gale force conditions at Grimsby.
Handling was difficult in the cold and windy conditions, so Kesteven looked to play a tight game.
A strong scrum allowed Jack Pirie time to pick up and charge over for the opening try. The conversion was missed into the wind.
Good defence in midfield, led by Simpson and Parker, forced Grimsby back and caused a number of handling errors. From a scrum, Parker made good ground and some great rucking gave the backs quick ball. Archer was able to make a break and score the second try.
Then against the run of play, the Grimsby eight made a strong run and broke several tackles to score under the posts. A successful conversion brought the score back to 10-7.
After several phases of retained possession and some good forward play, Kershaw scored Kesteven’s third try before the break.
Tom Addlesee, Norsworthy and Barretto replaced Shelbourn, Kershaw and Tupper at half time.
The wind continued to trouble both sides and lots of handling errors made for a very stop-start game.
Following a series of penalties, Grimsby scored in the corner to close the difference to three points.
The remaining Kesteven replacements – Bacon, Thomas and Donnelly – all came on, and a reshuffle saw Simpson move into scrum-half.
Following a tense final few minutes, the Grimsby eight scored the winning try in the corner.
Kesteven can still progress to the semi-finals if they win their final pool game at home to Derby.