Notts Pennant League
Kesteven 2nd 22
Southwell 2nd 19
A familiar foe was welcomed to Woodnook but the game started poorly for Ks with the kick-off failing to go the required 10 metres, putting the home side immediately on the back foot.
Southwell were quick to take advantage, gaining good territory and causing Ks to defend.
Kesteven won a five-metre scrum on 18 minutes and pushed Southwell back over their own line. The visitors had other ideas and halted the Black Army juggernaut illegally. The referee awarded a penalty try and Parker added the extras.
Southwell forced a five-metre scrum and following a couple of near misses they were able to find a gap in the Kesteven backline to restore parity.
In a game of punch and counter-punch, it was again Kesteven who looked to gain the next score, after some good work from Jordan, Aspinall and Charles. Eventually, a half-break from Midgley was halted only for him to show great awareness and offload to Parker for a great team try, which Parker himself converted.
With Southwell still reeling from the second score, Ks looked to further the advantage. Just before half time, a penalty was kicked to the corner for a line-out. Southwell left the Kesteven pack a route to the try line and a first try for Richard Armstrong. Parker’s conversion attempt narrowly missed.
Southwell came out all guns blazing in the second half and it took just seven minutes for the visitors to find a way over the try line. Crucially, the conversion was missed.
Kesteven were awarded a penalty on 50 metres. For the first time in the game, Ks took the pragmatic approach and used the booming accurate boot of Matt Grinney to take a shot at goal and his kick sailed through the posts for a vital three points that would prove to be match clinching later in the game.
With less than 10 minutes on the clock, Ks were looking to close the game out and steal a bonus point try if possible, but Southwell seemed to be getting ever stronger and more wily as they looked to sneak a victory.
In a disastrous minute, having conceded too many penalties for the referee’s liking, first Richard Armstrong and then Martyn Parker were sent to the sin bin for the remainder of the game.
Down to 13 men, Kesteven were forced to defend with more and more desperation. Eventually the pressure told and Southwell crossed for a try which was converted to make the score 22-19 with a single minute left.
Capitulation at this time was not in the Kesteven mindset. Cheered on by their support they put in tackle after tackle as Southwell looked for another try. Eventually up to the line, they looked to sneak over from close range, but a remarkable turnover under the posts gave back possession.
Jordan kicked to the edge of the 22 to a waiting Southwell attacker. Andy Cartwright was up quickly and made the tackle. He returned to his feet and was on to the ball, making the Southwell player concede a penalty. The kick out ended the game and Kesteven were delighted to have held out for the victory to cement their place at the top of the table.
Man of the match was awarded to Ben Betts, who again excelled in his new role at hooker.
Kesteven: Osbourne, Betts, Mawby, A. Clift-Hill, Vincent, Armstrong, Danford, Midgley, Dent, Parker, Charles, P. Jordan, Aspinall, Cartwright, Windsor, Reps: Cooper, R. Dolan, Grinney, Crowson, Jessop.