Notts Pennant League
Kesteven 2nd 43
Lincoln 3rd 3
Kesteven took the field looking to build on the success of last week’s match.
Lincoln kicked off directly into touch, giving Kesteven the advantage of a scrum on halfway. This gave the home team the opportunity to get into the Lincoln half early on and they immediately took the lead with a classic try. The pack won the ball and simple passing through the backs allowed Charles to score.
This was the start of a great half of rugby in which Kesteven tore the Lincoln defence apart time after time, largely as a result of the great understanding between Parker and Jordan.
First, they opened up a gap which allowed Brewis to run clear from halfway, then Chessum got the first of two tries before Robinson scored from close range.
It was all Kesteven and Bennett appeared on the wing to score a try using skills he learned in his days as a back. Charles was out on the wing waiting for the pass but Bennett didn’t need him.
Lincoln, at 29-0 down, still kept trying and scored with a penalty, before Chessum finished the half with an interception try. Parker converted three of the six tries to maket the half time score 36-3 to the home side.
The second half was a much closer affair. To their credit, Lincoln tightened up their defence and the match settled down.
It took 30 minutes before Kesteven were able to add to their score. Again, it was a well worked try which saw Bennett in the clear to go over. Whinney converted with a fine kick and the game ended in a comprehensive win.
Kesteven: Brewis, Udom, Windsor, Jordan, Charles, Parker, Brighten, Bennett, Cole, Felton, Robinson, Bailey, Chessum, Wardwn, Fuller. Reps: King, Eagle, Whinney, Barnes, Burns.
Midlands League 3
Kesteven made the short trip to Spalding full of hope after a strong win against Sleaford the previous week.
Spalding, on a strong run of from since November, were not going to be an easy opposition.
With only a couple of changes to the squad from the previous week, Kesteven took to the field and immediately took play to Spalding. The opposition could not handle the early pressure and the Black Army won a penalty in front of the post; Galloway took his opportunity to put Kesteven in the lead.
Spalding reacted to this and came back strongly, scoring a well-worked try.
Kesteven were not to be deterred and upped their game. Strong phase play led to a number of infringements from the Spalding defence and the referee was not impressed. With Spalding a man down, Ks again elected for the kick to close the deficit.
With the score now at 7-6, Kesteven again tried to up the tempo and when a pass to Palin was deliberately slapped down, the referee sent another man to the bin. Ks, now playing against a 13-man defence, sensed their opportunity. Draper put Turner in a hole and he was away for a try under the posts. Galloway converted.
Kesteven now had a 13-7 lead but were finding it hard to break down the Spalding defence, despite numerical advantage. Ks worked their way in to a good position and Cowley broke through to score under the posts, but the referee brought play back due to him obstructing a defender.
Spalding returned to full strength and just before half time created a well worked try. This was converted to give the home side a 14-13 lead at half time.
With the game balanced on a knife edge, Kesteven knew if they were to get anything out of it they would have to work hard. Within three minutes, Ks had earned a kickable penalty and took the opportunity, again Galloway hitting the mark to give Ks the lead.
Kesteven kept the pressure on and the next play was one of the moments of the season. Good passing skills in the backline worked the ball out to Tweddle who broke through a hole near the left wing, closely supported on the outside by Cowley. Cowley switched inside and with a late call, Tweddle threw an overhead pass to put Cowley away for a try. Galloway again converted for 23-14 up.
Kesteven were now in the driving seat. From the restart, Purvis gathered and passed to Cowley who charged up the wing. Kesteven earnt a line-out in the Spalding 22 and kept the pressure on.
Some clever play worked the ball out to Palin who passed inside to Turner who gave Kesteven a 28-14 lead with 22 minutes to go.
The next 22 minutes showed the team’s progression. Composure and confidence were evident as Ks kept Spalding pinned in their 22. Forcing turnovers at breakdowns and in the scrum, Kesteven were not going to let go of the lead.
Ks worked hard and were unlucky not to get the bonus point, but it was progress from previous weeks. Cowley, Turner, Purvis and Tweddle ran hard and big hits from Turner and Webster kept the defence strong. In the backs, Galloway and Halliday linked up well, and accurate kicking from Galloway kept the team moving forwards.
It was a well-earned four points and could prove crucial at the end of the season.
Kesteven captain Gavin Purvis said: “It was tight first half, but I was happy with the way that we showed a bit of composure in the second half to tighten the screw a little bit and put Spalding under pressure.
“We’ve struggled with forcing games, closing them out and in putting the sword to teams.
“It was a good team performance, with fly half Chris Galloway really excelling in the hard playing conditions.”
Kesteven: Price, Hall, Dingley, Halliday, Palin, Galloway, Draper, Pert, Sheardown, Purvis, Cowley, Tweddle, Webster, Armstrong, Turner. Reps: Cox, Brown, Stedman.
With the pitch confirmed playable, Kesteven welcomed Newark to a bitterly cold Woodnook.
A good warm-up saw the boys ready to exert their game on the Newark boys, both in attack and defence. And that is what they did, brilliantly.
Newark did not know what had hit them as the forwards produced ball for the backs to weave their magic.
Squad rotation, injury and hypothermia saw the team change throughout the game but still continue in the Kesteven playing style, and looked just as strong when changes were made.
Boys worked for each other, with an outstanding team spirit that will hold them in good stead for the future.
Tries were scored by Charlie Plant (3) and Joe Atkinson, giving a final score of 20-15 to Kesteven.
The final whistle, with the ball quickly turning into an ice block, saw much jubilation from the ‘black army’ and, after handshakes, a sprint back to the warmth of a very happy Kesteven changing room.
Everyone contributed in a true squad performance that should make all involved very proud.