Midlands League 3
Kesteven travelled to Southwell to catch up on the league fixture which was a victim of frost before Christmas, on the back of an outstanding victory the previous week and were therefore full of confidence.
They welcomed back Andy Peabody to the back row and Rupert Jordan to the wing, with Matt Harland making only his second appearance of the season off the bench.
The game kicked off in glorious winter sunshine on a pitch not looking its best, but still firm enough in places for some good running rugby.
Kesteven began brightly, looking to get on the front foot early and continue from last week’s fireworks, but they soon found the Southwell side a far more difficult proposition to break down.
Rather frustratingly for players and supporters alike, this made for a rather error-strewn opening quarter in which neither side managed to gain the ascendancy.
It took a full 20 minutes for the deadlock to be broken following a great surge from Gavin Purvis which caused the home defence issues, and they were slow to roll away from the breakdown, giving Will Cann a penalty kick which he dispatched with ease.
The game again stuttered along after the restart with continued errors on both sides and the referee’s whistle with annoying regularity.
It was Southwell who should have opened the try scoring however, but a woeful forward pass denied them one in the corner. During the build up to this, Will Cann suffered a reoccurrence of a shoulder injury and left the field to be replaced by Ben Betts.
Half time came with neither side looking particularly comfortable, but with Kesteven holding on to a slender lead. Harland replaced Rupert Jordan.
The second half began with Kesteven taking the game to Southwell and, following some devastating work from Goodrich, Parker opted for a long kick to the corner which was measured to perfection, making Southwell defend a line-out on the five metre line. Unfortunately, with a near 7ft line-out jumper, the home side cleared without too much trouble and were able to mount an attack of their own.
The ball was turned over from a Kesteven line-out and, following a missed tackle in midfield, Southwell made no mistake in finishing the try under the posts to take the lead for the first time, 7-3.
This was a blow, but Kesteven were by no means out of the game and again took the fight to the home side. Goodrich, man-of-the-match Purvis and Midgley continued to make good bursts through the line but, in a change from the previous week, the supporting player was often not there quick enough to either accept the offload or secure the ball.
Following another strong run from Purvis, the Southwell tackler was slow to move from the breakdown and was duly shown a yellow card, giving Ks a numerical advantage. Harland opted for a difficult kick from the resulting penalty which drifted just wide.
Kesteven did all they could to try to drive home the advantage during the sin bin period, but all they were able to squeeze from the miserly Southwell side was a second penalty chance for Harland, who made no mistake the second time of asking to take the score to 7-6 and anyone’s game.
But it was Southwell who looked the more eager side at this stage, perhaps buoyed on by their support who by now were becoming more vocal.
A good period of pressure gave Southwell an attacking five metre line-out. They had tried all sorts of moves all game to score from a line-out, which were dealt with expertly by the Black Army defence, but eventually they managed to find a way of forcing the way over the whitewash for a crucial second try.
Southwell were content to allow the visitors to attack from deep and, with just minutes left on the clock, Kesteven did just this. Just as they looked to have created an overlap for Rupert Jordan, who had returned to the field for Cartwright, the ball went loose off a pass and the Southwell winger was there to snap up the ball and race in unopposed to the posts. The conversion made the score 19-6 and left Ks to spend the remainder of the game trying to deny Southwell scoring a bonus point try.
This week sees the first XV entertain local rivals Sleaford at Woodnook. The visitors will be desperate to overturn the demolition they received before Christmas and with club sponsors invited to the game, it should be a cracking fixture.
Kesteven: Odams, Sheardown, Purvis, Cowley, Pert, Peabody, Midgley, Webster, Draper, Parker, Cartwright, Goodrich, Cann, Jordan, Wood. Reps: Osborne, Betts, Harland.