Stratford 31 Kenilworth 17
Midlands One West
STRATFORD sit fourth in the table after securing a gritty bonus point victory over their Warwickshire rivals at Pearcecroft on Saturday.
A healthy crowd cheered on the hosts after enjoying their Christmas buffet but this was no walk in the park against the bottom of the table visitors.
From the outset Stratford showed their intent as a good interchange by the backs led to Jack Young scoring in the left corner. The centre was also on kicking duty for the day and added the extras himself to give his side an early 7-0 lead.
Kenilworth came back hard at Stratford, who conceded two penalties in quick succession defending in their twenty-two. Kenilworth opted to take the points on offer and the score was 7-3.
Overall the match was generally pretty scrappy with a number of stoppages for injuries and infringements, and possession switched back and forth between the sides.
It was a quarter of an hour before the next score and this time it was a penalty to Stratford which Young slotted over to make it 10-3.
The vocal supporters, warmed by the Christmas spirit, had to wait until nearly half time for the next score.
Winger Dan Whitby had a storming run out of the Stratford twenty-two which left the Kenilworth defence back-pedalling desperately.
The ball was then moved rapidly from right to left where centre Andy Conway, deceptively strong, broke through for a try in the left corner. Another good conversion by Young took the half time score to 17-3.
It was not long into the second half until Stratford extended their lead even further. Callum Cook made a great break on the left, somehow managing to avoid the touchline by inches, for a classic winger’s try in the corner.
Young continued to relish the kicking duties with a lovely conversion and Stratford were sitting pretty at 24-3.
Kenilworth did not take this lightly and battled hard to get back into the game. Within ten minutes they had good field position with a lineout deep in the home team’s twenty-two.
The Kenilworth pack mauled the ball close to the Stratford line and they were rewarded with another penalty close to the line.
Back-rower Paul Davies was adjudged to have been the one at fault and received a yellow card and Kenilworth used the extra man advantage to muscle the next drive across the line in the corner. Another good conversion made the score 24-10.
Kenilworth scored another try 12 minutes later but this was from more open play. A fluid attack which included a pass so flat it appeared to defy physics resulted in a score in the left corner again.
It was duly converted and Kenilworth were right back in the match at 24-17.
Stratford upped their game towards the end as perhaps Kenilworth tired a little and good pressure forced the visitors to carry the ball back over their own which line gave Stratford a great attacking platform with a scrum just five metres out.
The Stratford scrum had been solid throughout and provided good clean ball. Sam Kirby, on as replacement, linked up with Callum Cook and the winger scored again in the left corner for the four-try bonus point. There was yet another good kick by Young for the extras.
The match finished with a maximum five points for Stratford and nothing for Kenilworth who deserved better. The Dick Workman Cup for man of the match was awarded to Young for his all-round performance and goal-kicking.
Stratford’s next two league matches are also at home. The first is against Moseley Oak on January 7, followed by the visit of current leaders Newport a week later.