Kenilworth 22 Stratford 20
Midlands One West
STRATFORD turned a 16-point half time deficit into a winning position, only to lose out with the last kick of an enthralling game on Saturday.
The Black & Whites had trailed 19-3 at half time but then led 20-19 after tries from Nath Geekie and Simon Baldwyn.
However, Kenilworth’s Josh Hickman secured the spoils with a penalty from just inside the Stratford half with the final kick of the match.
Kenilworth pressed hard right from the kick-off and it paid dividends when Ed Hannam broke through for a try in the left corner. Hickman’s conversion was wide and Kenilworth led 5-0 after five minutes.
Stratford fought back and were unlucky when a promising attack broke down and Kenilworth were awarded a penalty for sealing off at a ruck.
Once again Kenilworth put the ball into the air and chased. Stratford’s defence failed to deal with the kick and, after a couple of quick phases, Alex Selby dived over under the posts. Hickman’s conversion gave Kenilworth a 12-0 lead with just 15 minutes played.
Stratford managed to get on the scoreboard five minutes later.
The pack drove a maul a good 30 metres and got very close to the line before Kenilworth pulled it down and conceded a penalty to avoid what looked like an inevitable score.
Stratford went for the lineout and continued to press before Kenilworth conceded yet another penalty. This time full back Geekie stepped up and kicked the three points.
Kenilworth now led by 12-3 and were perhaps fortunate to still have a full complement of players on the field.
Kenilworth added to their lead ten minutes later. Stratford once again gave up possession after failing to deal with another kick and Kenilworth moved the ball rapidly out to the left and Jamie Mapletoft had a relatively easy run-in for their third try.
The tricky conversion was good from Hickman so Kenilworth dominated the scoreboard at half time.
However, Stratford had had most of the possession and the hosts were starting to look distinctly tired.
The exhaustion started to show with numerous stoppages for Kenilworth injuries, aka rest breaks, and Stratford started to press.
From a lineout just outside the Kenilworth 22, Stratford mauled the ball deep into the red zone. A break off the back was followed by a quick offload to Geekie who broke through the line for a try halfway in from the touchline. Geekie converted his own try and Stratford were back in contention at 19-10.
Stratford continued to pile on the pressure and cracks started to show with some ill-discipline from Kenilworth. From one of the penalties, Geekie added another three points to put Stratford less than a converted try away at 19-13.
With just ten minutes left to play, Stratford got the try they wanted.
Once again lock Tom Mylott was pushed high into the air to collect the ball at the lineout. The pack then drove forward and prop Baldwyn touched down.
Geekie was cool as a cucumber as he slotted the ball through the uprights and Stratford went ahead for the first time.
The remainder of the game was very tense as both sides fought hard for every metre.
Kenilworth kept the pressure up and, with the clock now turned red, Stratford were able to breathe a sigh of relief when the referee called ‘accidental offside’.
Unfortunately the relief was shortlived as he awarded Kenilworth a penalty despite it being accidental so, with the very last kick of the game, Kenilworth were able to snatch victory.
With the losing bonus point, Stratford were joined by Bridgnorth and Bournville on 51 points at the top of the table, but both have games in hand.
Stratford’s next game is Sponsors’ Day on Saturday at Pearcecroft when the Black & Whites meet Leek who are currently third from bottom.
The 2.15pm kick-off is preceded by the sponsors lunch when the club says thank you for their continuing support.