Kenilworth’s winning start to the season came to an abrupt end at Loxley Lane where a lacklustre performance against a committed Stratford side saw them leave empty-handed, writes Ralph Murray.
The early part of the game was punctuated by only two penalties, one for each side, and it seemed every score would be precious.
The deadlock was finally broken when Stratford, attacking through the backs, put boot to ball and sent a grubber into the corner. The kick seemed to favour the defender but the Stratford winger was more alert and won the race to the touch down.
With time running down, Kenilworth infringed and Stratford stretched their lead to 11-3.
After a pretty barren first half it was Kenilworth who opened the scoring in the second period courtesy of a Josh Hickman penalty.
The home side resumed where they left off by spending long periods inside the Kenilworth 22. Only some desperate defence from Ed Hannam prevented a certain score as the ball was held up but this only delayed the inevitable.
Soon after, Stratford scored from close range but, with the conversion missed, the damage was limited to a 16-6 advantage.
The score finally stung Kenilworth into a firm response and they made good progress to the Stratford 22 before winning a penalty. The kick was quickly taken and Ks moved the ball left but the final pass was astray and the chance went begging.
The attack was resumed as Kenilworth took the lineout and drove towards the Stratford line. Renowden moved the ball inside and skipper Jonny Cresswell, continuing his good run of form, crashed over from short range.
From the kick-off, Stratford kicked long and Joe Yeomanson seemed to have it covered as he passed inside to Josh Hickman but the full-back decided to run the ball out.
Stratford had predicted well and caught the 15 in possession and he was forced to concede a penalty. The successful kick took the visitors out of bonus- point range.
With less than a quarter of the match remaining, Ks were trying desperately to secure some return for their efforts with the returning Mikkel Andersson having again made his mark.
The young Dane secured a good lineout and followed up with another burst through the open-side to continue the attack. Eventually, Kenilworth won a penalty near the half-way line and the limited time made the decision easier. Hickman duly obliged and a losing bonus point looked to have been secured.
However, added time allowed Stratford to again threaten Ks’ line and they took play inside the opposition 22 before the visitors turned the ball over.
Andersson looked to run the ball out before being stopped by what looked a high tackle but nothing was called.
The next whistle was for a Kenilworth infringement and the successful kick proved the final act of the game, denying the visitors even a bonus point for their efforts.