RUGBY UNION: THIRTEEN man Kenilworth returned to winning ways on Saturday with a tenacious 32-13 victory over Earlsdon, writes Sophie Freestone.
The win boosted Kenilworth’s promotion credentials, promoting them to third in the league behind table-topping Droitwich and second placed Malvern.
Poor conditions made free-flowing rugby a tricky task, but Kenilworth adapted best to earn a hard-fought win.
But it was Earlsdon that scored first after heavy pressure saw Lawrence Gittins cross over for a 5-0 lead.
Kenilworth responded well though as winger Ed Hannam burrowed his way over from close range.
His try nudged the hosts into a two-point lead following the successful conversion from the boot of Simon Tyler.
With the half hour mark approaching, Earlsdon were once again inside the Kenilworth 22, with the hosts losing prop Dan Roberts to the sin bin for collapsing the maul.
The visitors soon made the most of their one-man advantage with number eight Martin Wood crashing over for his side’s second try and a 10-7 lead.
Sustained pressure in the Kenilworth 22 then saw the hosts go down to 13 players with full back Ollie Sharples shown a yellow card for a try-saving deliberate knock on just five metres from the Kenilworth line.
Despite having two more players on the pitch, Earlsdon were unable to turn their pressure into points with Kenilworth’s defence holding firm to keep the score at 10-7 at the break.
Kenilworth wasted no time in regaining the lead at the start of the second half.
A trademark snipe from Gareth Renowden saw the scrum half go over by the posts following a tap-and-go penalty. Tyler was once again on target with the conversion to put his side 14-10 up.
Earlsdon then cut the gap to a single point with a penalty from in front of the posts before Tyler responded with three points from his left boot to restore his side’s four-point lead.
A second penalty for Tyler as the final quarter approached made the score 20-13 before Charlie Stevens took the game beyond doubt with a try under the posts after 75 minutes. Tyler added the extras for a 27-13 lead.
With victory now secured Kenilworth were keen to earn the all-important bonus point – and that’s exactly what they did when prop Dan Minks crossed on the right with a minute to go.
Tyler dragged his conversion just to the left of the uprights before the referee called time on a physical encounter in tough conditions, with Kenilworth securing a 32-13 victory.
Kenilworth are back in action on Saturday as they travel to Evesham for their last away trip of 2017.