Notts Pennant League
Nottingham Corsairs 14
Kesteven 2nd 12
Having had a few weeks break, an eager and strong Kesteven 2nd team travelled to runaway league leaders Notts Corsairs only too aware of the challenge that awaited them.
Corsairs have an impressive record this season, winning 14 out of 14 with a total of 691 points scored and only 218 conceded, typically managing around 40-50 points a game – a formidable team indeed.
Nonetheless, Kesteven took the field with confidence, having strung together a decent set of results and with what is fast becoming quite a settled side.
Kesteven were resolute in defence, but finally Corsairs managed decent field position and from a scrum produced a wonderful move which saw the left wing released. He showed decent pace to cross for the first try, which was converted with some style.
Kesteven were 7-0 down and Corsairs were smelling another easy victory. Again Kesteven started with aggression from the restart and were managing field position of their own.
Ks now had some sort of platform on which to build their game and it was Charlie Pirie who was put into a big hole in the Corsairs defence. The abrasive number eight made 30 metres before off-loading to Danford who was stopped just shy.
A series of pick and go drives were repelled on the line, before Adam Draper spotted a gap and darted through for Kesteven’s first try. Martyn Parker kept things tense by allowing the conversion to slide by the near post.
Corsairs were clearly rocked by this cleverly freed their left wing. With seemingly no one in sight, he set off for the line, before Pirie came from out of nowhere to bundle him into touch less that a metre from the try line.
Ks skipper Jordan rang the changes at half time and first Draper made a mesmeric break from the base of a scrum, but was unable to link with support, and then Danford powered through a series of tackles before sprinting 50 metres. Again unable to link up with support the chance fizzled out.
From a scrum, Kesteven’s outside defence rushed up and the Corsairs outside half spotted this and put in a pin point kick for the winger to chase, and he just managed to touch down before Henry Parker could get to the ball. The kick attempt was good.
Despite losing a man to the sin bin, a fearless Kesteven set about their task of not coming away empty handed. It had been a tactic to try to free Henry Parker in space all game, and with 15 minutes left it finally happened.
Martyn Parker fed the ball to Windsor who found Udom. He timed a perfect pass to Parker Junior in space. With 60 metres left, he outstripped the defence and then cut inside the covering full back before finishing under the posts for an outstanding individual finish. Parker senior added the extras, and Ks were back in the game 14-12 down.
Kesteven had a chance to take victory when they were awarded a penalty 35metres out. Martyn Parker took responsibility to add the three points, but unfortunately his attempt did not have the legs and Corsairs cleared their lines and held on for their slenderest win of the season.
For Kesteven, every player worked hard with Henry Parker taking his try superbly, and the workrate of Pirie and Danford lifting their team mates, the latter deservedly winning man of the match.
Kesteven: Bennett, Danford, Felton, Robinson, Singer, Giorgio, Warden, Pirie, Draper, M. Parker, H. Parker, Jordan, Windsor, Cooper, Udom, Reps: Waters, Mawby, Charles, Bailey.
Kesteven Colts 31
Market Rasen/Boston Colts 25
Kesteven welcomed fellow County Cup competitors Market Rasen to Woodnook, along with a couple of Boston players, who formed a hybrid side together.
The reverse fixture in November saw Ks run out 10-0 winners, so Rasen arrived with only a win in mind.
The opening exchanges were very tight. Both sides saw plenty of possession, but the visitors claimed the first score. A needless penalty conceded by Kesteven allowed Rasen to kick deep into the black 22, where they set up a catch and drive, mauling their way over to take the lead.
But Ks responded almost instantly. After turning the ball over, the home side showed excellent handling to rampage down the left hand side, ending with Harry Cox touching down in the corner for 5-5 after speeding his way past the scrambling red and green defence.
The loss of a forward to a broken ankle did not deter Rasen and a perfect backs’ set-play allowed them to dive over out wide.
An almost identical play to the previous score, involving the classy Rasen fly-half, involved him looping round to feed the ball to the outside backs, scoring in the corner for a 15-5 half time lead.
Reinvigorated to take back the lead, Ks scored almost immediately after the restart. After pressuring the Rasen line, the ball was turned over. Despite this, the wheeling scrum allowed Joe Brighten to grab the ball and snipe over from close range.
Further dominance and forward play allowed Josh Peters to dot down under the posts. Whinney converted for a 17-15 advantage.
However, stunning running rugby from the north Lincolnshire men led to them grabbing two more quick tries to regain the lead, 25-17.
But Ks bounced back through Cox, grabbing his second of the game, and Whinney kicked the extra points to close the gap to 25-24.
With only one point in it and 10 minutes to go, the match was poised to have a grandstand finish.
With only four minutes remaining, a rush defence put the Rasen backline under pressure and they spilt the ball. Whinney collected and fed Henry Parker who used his rapid pace to fly round the outside of the Rasen defenders and slide over stunningly. Whinney added the extras for 31-25 and victory.
Kesteven: Whinney, Palin, Cox, Green, Udom, Parker (c), Brighten, Adlesee, Tapson, Stanton, Bailey, Peters, Norsworthy, Eagle, Chessum.