Kenilworth left things just a little too late on Saturday as they suffered a narrow defeat to table-toppers Bridgnorth at Glasshouse Lane, writes Sophie Freestone.
The home side started brightly with a great break from full-back Jamie Mapletoft inside the opening two minutes, which was followed by a kick-chase from winger Rhys Jones, who appeared to be held up off the ball.
Their strong start continued, with an excellent flat pass to flanker Mikkel Andresen allowing him to take play inside the Bridgnorth 22 before the ball was lost.
Despite Kenilworth playing well in the opening minutes it was Bridgnorth who took the lead with a tenth-minute penalty.
They soon extended their advantage with a try from full-back Simon Fletcher who crossed on the left wing but touched down under the posts, allowing for a simple conversion to give the visitors a 10-0 lead.
Kenilworth were then reduced to 14 men after flanker Ollie Burman was sent to the bin for a late tackle.
Bridgnorth made the most of their one-man advantage with a period of pressure eventually yielding a converted try to give them a 17-0 lead just shy of the 20-minute mark.
Kenilworth dug deep, however, and despite being short-handed, responded with a converted try, captain Bobby Thompson crossing on the left.
Restored to 15, Kenilworth kept up the pressure and gained excellent field position following a kick-chase from scrum-half Alex Selby.
Bridgnorth extended their lead to 15 points with the half coming to a close, however, after a scrum deep inside Kenilworth’s 22 was pushed back, allowing them to score a try from short range.
The windy conditions blew the ball off the tee just before it was kicked and pressure from Hickman meant the drop-goal conversion was charged down to leave the visitors with a 22-7 half-time lead.
Kenilworth again made a lively start to the second period with Will Blundell gaining excellent ground before he was penalised for a knock-on.
The hosts were soon back in the game, however, with a fantastic kick over to the right corner from Gaz Renowden bouncing perfectly for Joe Jepps to touch down. Josh Hickman’s successful conversion reduced Bridgnorth’s lead to eight points.
That gap was shortlived, though, with a kick through easily touched down in the right corner to secure a bonus point for the visitors.
The conversion was missed and the next 20 minutes saw a period of real pressure from Kenilworth.
Excellent work in the set- piece included a superb claim in the lineout from Burman when it appeared that Bridgnorth had stolen possession.
A third try followed for the hosts in the 64th minute with Jepps collecting a loose ball and running half the length of the pitch to score his second of the afternoon.
The conversion was only just wide, but Hickman was on target in the 72nd minute with a long-range penalty to ensure a tense finish.
But despite Kenilworth continuing to pressurise the Bridgnorth defence, they were unable to cross the whitewash.