Kenilworth made hard work of beating derby rivals Earlsdon and know they will need to improve their accuracy and decision-making with tougher tasks ahead, writes Ralph Murray.
Kenilworth set off at a healthy pace and looked to make all the early running but, too often, the attacks were cut off in their prime by the referee’s whistle or the wrong option.
One move produced a spectacular series of passes which looked odds-on to produce one of the scores of the season but no try was given and Earlsdon cleared their lines.
The pressure finally brought reward when an attempted clearance from Earlsdon was charged down by Ed Hannam and Arthur Haynes crossed to open the scoring. In what was to become a feature of the afternoon, Josh Hickman kicked an extremely difficult conversion.
The pressure on Earlsdon’s line continued but, too often, the visiting players were taking their passes standing still. Some of the attacks were halted by the tackler not releasing or other infringements at the breakdown and eventually this resulted in a penalty which allowed Hickman to extend the lead.
Just as Kenilworth looked to be establishing a dominant position they let their opponents into the game with poor tackling allowing the Earlsdon flanker to score despite a suspicion of a forward pass and some crossing involved.
Ks’ response was immediate as James Wadey picked up from the set scrum and found scrum-half Gareth Renowden who faked right before crashing over close to a post.
Hickman was again successful with the extras to give Ks a 17-7 lead at the break.
Asleep at the restart, Kenilworth allowed Earsdon a further lifeline as sloppy defence saw the hosts open the second- half scoring with a converted try.
Stirred into action, Ks produced a series of threatening moves, with winger Joe Jepps making 40 metres from deep inside his 22 before the referee decided there had been some crossing earlier in the move. The resultant penalty brought Earlsdon level.
An unsavoury incident then produced a turning point. An Earlsdon forward took exception to Hickman retaining the ball and stamped on the full-back, earning a red card.
By way of partial retribution, Hickman nailed the conversion but almost immediately a penalty was awarded at the other end and Earlsdon were again level at 20 apiece.
A sense of urgency now took hold and Ks were more definite in their attacks, with the ball passed through a series of hands to put winger Haynes away for his second try of the day.
Again Hickman, faced with the most challenging of angles, made no mistake.
With time running down, Rhys Jones broke from his own line in search of the bonus-point score. The ball ended up with Haynes on the left wing and he stepped the final defender and hugged the touchline to complete a fine hat-trick.
Hickman completed a fine day’s work with the difficult conversion.