Midlands League 3 East North
Aylestone St James 5
The morning rain gave way to a fine spring afternoon at Woodnook as Kesteven looked to maintain their place at the top of the league.
Kesteven kicked off and were soon on the defensive as they conceded an early penalty. This allowed the visitors the early play but it all turned in an instant.
Odams intercepted an Aylestone pass on his own 22 and broke clear, running straight and true for the line. The cover defence eventually caught him close to the line but the supporting Olly Wood was up to finish the move to go in for the try.
The visitors were reduced to 14 players after 10 minutes when the referee sent one of their number to the sin bin for an attempted haymaker – and they were made to pay. From a scrum in midfield, Ks heeled the ball and Turner picked up at the base of the scrum and ran in untouched from 40 metres. This time Wood added the goal points to open up a 12 point lead with 16 minutes gone.
This should have eased the home team but Aylestone kept battling and made it difficult for Kesteven. They were not helped when, after 30 minutes, Wood was sent to the sin bin. Immediately Aylestone took advantage and forced their way over the line from close range. Their discipline again let them down and in the aftermath of the try a visiting player was sent to the bin for foul play.
In the second half, the visitors took the game to Kesteven but it was the home team who scored next, and it was a piece of magic from full back Will Cann. He broke clear in his own 22 and timed a perfect pass to the supporting Tom Miles who ran strongly from half way to score. Wood again added the conversion.
Ks were then drawn into a battle of attrition and were not able to break clear. The home defence was tested in a 10 minute spell when the Aylestone pack pounded the Kesteven line, but the defence held firm.
Eventually Kesteven won the ball on ther own line and a fine clearing kick by Draper took play up to half way. This was the last chance for Aylestone as Kesteven then dominated the remaining 15 minutes, desperate to score the bonus point try.
There was now a continual supply of possession for the home team but all efforts were repelled. Just as it seemed that the bonus wouldn’t come, Kesteven scored a bizarre try.
Aylestone had a scrum five metres from their own line. They heeled the ball but Draper had his opposite number in trouble. As he lost the ball over his own line, man of the match Charlie Pirie pounced on it to score.
The referee brought proceedings to an end with the final whistle and Kesteven maintained their place as league leaders with two games left. It was a dogged performance full of character and they got their just reward in the end.
This Saturday, Ks are at Belper in the final away match before ending the season with a home game against Boston. Kesteven 2nd are at Ashbourne 3rd on Saturday.
Kesteven: Cann, Miles, Dingley, Goodrich, Hughes, Wood, Draper, Odams, Sheardown, Osborne, Pert, Cowley, Pirie, Armstrong, Turner. Reps: Vincent, Brown, Hall.