Midlands League 3
Kesteven made the short trip to Arnold to take on old foes Mellish, mindful of the one-sided match when the sides met in September.
Any notion that it was going to be an easy ride for the visitors was soon dispelled. The Mellish pack was clearly up for the occasion and soon took control. Kesteven found it very difficult to win any possession and the strong cross-field wind made kicking a lottery.
The first 15 minutes were spent in the Kesteven half with the visitors’ defence being called upon to make a supreme effort to keep Mellish out. Tom Webster received a cut to the head and was replaced by Rob Cann after 15 minutes. Shortly after, the Mellish pack got their reward as they forced their way over for the opening try.
In a strange way, this relieved the pressure for Kesteven and they were able to put the restart kick into the home half. Although possession was limited, when they did have the ball the attack looked dangerous with James Goodrich particularly strong.
Ks won a penalty and their intent was clear as Wood popped the ball into touch about 15 metres out. Sayle won the line-out and worked the ball to Pert. The pack did the rest with a perfect drive to the line for the try, which scorer Pert thoroughly enjoyed.
This setback galvanised the home side who again kept Kesteven on the back foot. Just when it seemed that half time would come with the scores level, James Goodrich made his second intervention with a strong straight run up the middle. Tacklers seemed to bounce off him as he strode through to score at the posts. Whittaker added the conversion.
In the second half, Kesteven raised their game but still found it hard to break through. Mark Sayle looked to have scored but was recalled for a foot in touch. The decisive moment came after 12 minutes when the Mellish prop was sent to the sin bin for careless footwork. This gave Kesteven the opportunity to raise the tempo of the game by taking quick tap penalties.
From one of these, Scott Odams was able to use slick hands to release Mark Sayle who went over at the posts for the try which put daylight between the sides. Whittaker’s conversion took the score to 19-5.
Webster returned to the fray in place of Lines, and Osborne replaced Pert. Mellish were still trying to make a game of it but lacked any penetration. They were forced into a kicking game and were undone when Whittaker fielded one such clearance deep in his own half and raced clear to score in typical fashion.
He immediately repeated the exercise from the restart as he again found himself clear 70 metres out and raced way to score at the posts. Harland, who had replaced Jordan, added the goal points.
Finally, on the 30 minute mark the Ks backs again cut loose. This time Lidstone, now on the wing, was set clear by Harland and he looked odds on to score but unselfishly he slipped the ball inside to the supporting Wood who ran in for the try. Whittaker added the goal points to bring up a convincing win for Kesteven.
All in all, it turned out to be a comfortable win for Kesteven but the scoreline hides the fact that they had to work very hard to overcome a much improved Mellish side. There were fine performances by Sayle and Odams in the pack, while Whittaker again showed his class in the backs. Goodrich was named man of the match for his powerful straight running.
Kesteven’s next match is away to Boston in the Lincolnshire Cup on January 3.
Kesteven: Whittaker, R. Jordan, Lidstone, Goodrich, Jepson, Wood, Dingley, Odams, Sheardown, Purvis, Pert, Tweddle, Webster, Lines, Sayle. Reps: Harland, Osborne, Cann.