There is nothing easy about a trip to Pickford Grange Lane and so it proved in the latest encounter of the ongoing history between Barkers Butts and Kenilworth, writes Ralph Murray.
Fresh from an outstanding performance which saw them reach the Warwickshire Cup final, Kenilworth looked to replicate that form in this local derby.
The early signs were promising as the visitors, despite the unfavourable conditions, took the game to the Butts and Nick Jones continued his good run of form, scoring the opening try in the corner.
Against the odds and a howling crosswind, Josh Hickman nailed a perfect conversion to gain the maximum return.
Barkers came back with a vengeance and, after a successful penalty, produced a drop-goal on their next incursion to peg the difference back to a single point.
Kenilworth returned to the attack and, after a probing kick from Hickman, Barkers appeared to have stemmed the tide. However, an exceptional chase from tryscorer Jones hauled the Butts centre down in possession five metres away from his own line. Ks steadied the phases and looked odds-on to score but the Butts centre, with an illegal five-metre start, disrupted the move.
Undeterred, the visitors came again with Haynes in the thick of it. Mikkel Andresson provided the pivot and the ball was moved to within inches of the Butts line. Alex Selby had options both ways but, spying Haynes through a crowd on the blindside, he fired a laser pass to the wing who touched down to make it 12-6 to Ks at the interval.
The turnaround gave the hosts impetus and, after a series of plays where both teams were seeking an advantage, it was Butts who got the first score of the half.
Having lost their first scrummage, the hosts fared better on their next put-in, moving the ball to the blindside for their winger to score and bring them to within a point.
Ks reverted to type and used the ball wisely to move play into the red zone and, with the maul established, the industrious Tom Laney got the final press to stretch the visitors’ lead to 17-11.
In keeping with the nature of this fixture in recent years, Butts marched straight up the pitch from the restart and scored near the posts, with the conversion putting them a point ahead.
After a stoppage for a serious-looking injury to a Butts player, Kenilworth resumed the attack and won a penalty 25 metres out.
With points hard to come by, Hickman opted for the sticks and banged home the penalty to establish a three-point cushion for Kenilworth.
Butts desperately tried to get back on terms and won a penalty 25 metres out, but with the wind becoming ever more unpredictable, the kick failed to make the required distance.