Saturday 25 October 2014 – 3.00pm
Mint Bridge, Kendal
North One West #8
Kendal put last week’s defeat at Carlisle behind them to extend their lead at the top of North One West to three points, Vale of Lune becoming the latest side to find Mint Bridge more like Bitter Bridge this season.
Bolstered by the return of captain James Gough who scored the bonus-point try, the Hornets made hard work of it for the first hour before pulling away with three late tries in the biting Cumbrian wind.
Although across county borders, this game is a local derby of sorts with the two clubs only twenty-four miles apart, and they have been playing each other for well over a century.
The rain that had threatened to engulf South Lakeland all morning held off as the action got underway, Kendal unusually attacking the clubhouse end in the first half, but expecting to have the strong wind behind them in the second forty.
Vale of Lune looked to take full advantage of the wind with a strong first half performance. The first try came within the first ten minutes, the visitors sending a penalty from halfway into touch on the right, and as the ball was spread inside Billy Swarbrick fought over beside the posts, Ben Dorrington converting.
Kendal finally built their first spell in the away half after a quarter of an hour and almost made it to the 22 before a deliberate knock-on halted the Hornets. They sent the penalty into the corner, and from the drive Vale were again penalised, this time for offside. Kendal tapped and drove over the line, Glenn Weightman converting the try to level the scores.
Vale were not deterred however, Rob Lamberton and Adam Macluskie both made great breaks into the Kendal half but were unable to find finishers.
The game was played at a high temperature, in contrast to the actual air temperature, and after Dini Noyo was tackled around the neck the resulting fisticuffs led to Kendal’s Billy Coxon and Daniel Barnes of Vale being sent to the sin bin. Kendal’s penalty was kicked for touch but they were pulled up for crossing on the Vale 22.
Vale performed better when both sides were down to fourteen and a break by Lamberton deep into the Kendal half saw the centre find Chris Weeks on his shoulder, the full-back immediately passing on to Tom Ball who ran in to score on the right. The try was followed by a bit of handbags, but that did not distract Dorrington from adding the extras.
The Lancastrians were backed by some vocal supporters at Mint Bridge today, none more so than a gentleman (and I use the term loosely) who took great exception to the referee penalising the away side in front of the posts on the half-hour and showing Michael Barker a yellow card. From the resulting lineout, big prop Richard Harryman crashed over for the try, though Weightman’s conversion fell short in the wind.
Gough looked to inspire a half-time lead for the hosts with a break from a scrum, and found Noyo on the wing. Under pressure, the little South African chipped into the 22 and the ball bounced into the arms of a defender, but in the tackle he coughed up the ball and Noyo regathered, only a tackle into touch inches from the line denying him a try.
However, Kendal did go into the break ahead through a 25-metre penalty by Weightman, making the half-time score 15-14.
Kendal took control of the game almost immediately after the restart, Weightman setting powerful centre Bob Mataia away. Dan Lowther continued the attack but Noyo was unable to gather a pass on the 22. The Hornets decided to go further into the lead when awarded a penalty just outside the 22 for another high tackle, Weightman knocking the ball over.
The home forwards hammered on the Vale door, through a series of penalties and scrums, and at four points ahead looked for more tries. Vale were unable to clear, preferring to play their way out of the 22 but never quite succeeding. Kendal were however also their own worst enemies, losing possession to knock-ons and loose passes, though it seemed only a matter of time before the Cumbrians’ third try came.
Well past the hour mark, Weightman sent a penalty high towards the Vale goal from ten metres inside the away half, but the ball flew wide. The tension among the home fans was bubbling following the defeat-from-the-jaws-of-victory witnessed at Carlisle last week.
Finally the breakthrough came. Kendal took a scrum on the Vale 22 and drove all the way to the line, hooker Garry Holmes the man to touch down. Weightman converted.
Just two minutes later Kendal kicked to the right corner and stole the ball back following Vale’s lineout, and Gough broke through the away defence to score the bonus-point try that allowed the South Lakeland side to breathe a huge sigh of relief.
Seconds after that, Alistair Thompson exploited a gap on the left of Vale’s defence and raced in for another try, bringing the score to 32-14.
There was still time for Vale of Lune to grab a consolation try with their first real attack of the second half, Lamberton the man to score with a break just to the right of the posts.
Defeat for Widnes saw Birkenhead Park reclaim second spot behind Kendal in the table, but the bonus point means that Kendal increase their lead at the top just slightly. Next up for the Hornets is a trip to mid-table Manchester side Broughton Park in a week’s time.
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