JOSH Hickman held his nerve to land a late injury-time penalty as Kenilworth made a welcome return to winning ways against local rivals Stratford on Saturday, reports Sophie Freestone.
A narrow 22-20 victory at Glasshouse Lane moves Kenilworth up to sixth in the Midlands 1 West division and they have a game in hand over fifth-placed Dudley Kingswinford.
The hosts got off to a brilliant start by scoring the opening try of the match after just six minutes. Following an attack that started on halfway, winger Ed Hannam broke through the Stratford defence to cross but Hickman’s conversion was just wide of the mark.
Stratford almost responded immediately as they made their way towards Kenilworth’s 5-metre line, but some great defence from the home side earned a penalty from which they cleared their lines.
A Kenilworth kick upfield then proved tricky for Stratford to handle which resulted in a turnover. The ball was worked to the left in a great counter attack before fly half Alex Selby dived over under the posts and this time Hickman was successful with the conversion to put the hosts 12-0 in front.
The visitors responded in the form of a penalty from Nath Geekie, before they almost scored a try of their own but scrum half Gaz Renowden was quick to react with a great clearance kick to halt the Stratford attack.
As the half-hour mark approached, Kenilworth were once again on the score sheet. A kick to the corner from Renowden gave the home side a turnover 5 metres from the Stratford line. The ball was spun out to the left and full back Jamie Mapletoft crossed in the corner to score his first try for the club.
Hickman added the extras from out wide to give Kenilworth a comfortable 19-3 lead at the half-way point in the match.
Stratford came out strong for the final 40 minutes with a converted try near the posts from full back Nath Geekie inside the opening five minutes to close the gap to nine points.
Kenilworth had their chances to extend their lead but missed a penalty attempt and and a penalty for the visitors made the score 19-13 inside the final 20 minutes.
A converted try six minutes from time gave Stratford a one-point lead to ensure a nerve wracking final five minutes for the home side.
But Kenilworth kept the pressure up and the referee blew for an injury time penalty just inside the Stratford half which Hickman’s superbly struck between the posts to secure a win for the hosts with the final kick of the match in a thrilling local derby.
Up next for Kenilworth is a trip to Walsall this Saturday.