Saturday 21 March 2015 – 3.00pm
Mint Bridge, Kendal
North One West #23
Kendal remain in the battle for promotion from North One West after all three of the leading teams won yesterday.
With five tries, the Hornets defeated Warrington at home and moved a point closer to second-placed Kirkby Lonsdale, who missed out on a bonus point in their win away to New Brighton. Kendal now have 90 points to their near neighbours’ 92. Birkenhead Park continued their seemingly unstoppable march towards the title with a big win at Bolton, taking their points tally to 98.
On a warm, sunny day that suggested this freezing Cumbrian winter might finally be coming to an end, Kendal went on the attack almost immediately and completely dominated the first half at Mint Bridge.
Initially, the home team’s forwards looked to fight a way through the Warrington defence and the backs pinned the visitors back with some accurate kicks to the corners.
However it took more than a quarter of an hour for the first try to come. Warrington sent up a high kick outside of their 22, and when a visiting player patted the ball backwards it came to Kendal centre Bob Mataia, who found Glenn Weightman to break into the away 22. Kendal won a penalty that captain James Gough quickly tapped, driving for the line and the forwards pushed prop Richard Harryman over for the opening score.
Chris Park converted, and Harryman almost got his second try within minutes but was held up.
On the half-hour, Kendal’s Garry Holmes made a powerful carry into the 22 and found Mataia on the left approaching the tryline and though the hosts knocked on, they won the scrum against the head and Matty Houghton fought his way over for another converted try.
Warrington had barely been in the Kendal half of the field and not in the 22 at all, and their first half was summed up when they knocked on from the restart and conceded a penalty for offside, Kendal immediately firing the ball into touch deep in the away half. The lineout was driven towards the tryline and Holmes touched down at the back, giving the Cumbrians a 19-0 lead at half-time.
Warrington’s half-time oranges must have given them a boost because just a few minutes into the second half they got into the Kendal 22 for the first time. From a scrum, the Cheshire side moved the ball right and young winger Max Caldwell found himself free on the right to score an unconverted try.
Kendal went back on the attack though and after two penalties were sent to the corner, hooker Holmes calmly touched down his second try at the rear of a maul to give Kendal the bonus point. Park’s conversion made the score 26-5.
Warrington probed to try to get back into the game but Kendal managed to hold them at the 22 for a while, before the visitors pushed forwards and Caldwell gave the scoring pass for a teammate to round on the right and score by the posts. Ben Hockenhull’s conversion reduced the deficit to fourteen points.
With a quarter of the match remaining, Warrington’s captain attempted to rally his colleagues, and confidence was high among the visitors that they could claiming a bonus point or even a win against “tiring” Kendal. Home fans found it amusing, but some recalled the reverse fixture earlier in the season when Warrington put Kendal to the sword in Cheshire in probably the Cumbrians’ worst performance of the season.
The visitors’ confidence was indeed misplaced, as after Kendal won a scrum against the head in Warrington’s half, Mataia charged 25 metres to the five-metre line. The Kendal forwards hammered on the door and finally won a penalty when away prop Mike Williams didn’t roll away from a tackle. The frustrated Williams was sent to the sin bin for his misdemeanor, and after two scrums referee Martin Danvir awarded a penalty try for Warrington standing up.
Park’s conversion looked to have taken Kendal out of sight with a 21-point lead, but Warrington came back and Ryan Preston broke a tackle to score from close range just to the left of the posts.
Warrington continued to look for more points but Kendal defended resolutely. Winning a penalty in their own half, Kendal tapped and charged forward through Gough who offloaded to Weightman on halfway. The fly-half rounded on the left but was tapped in the 22 and couldn’t keep his balance.
There was late controversy when Caldwell was hit by what Warrington considered a late tackle, and one of the visitors’ coaches was critical of such a big hit on a teenager. I didn’t see the incident, and obviously if it was a late tackle then give a penalty, however my opinion is that if a player cannot play against strong men then it’s not safe for him to be on the pitch.
The match ended 33-19 to Kendal, who now move on to the big derby at Kirkby Lonsdale on Saturday. After that only two games remain, Eccles at Mint Bridge and then a potential humdinger at Birkenhead Park in mid-April as the battle for the single automatic promotion spot and the one playoff place in North One West looks set to go down to the wire.
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