A 70th-minute try helped Earlsdon come from behind to retain the Warwickshire Shield in a tense final at Barkers’ Butts, writes Sophie Freestone.
Kenilworth had opened up a ten-point lead which they held on to until the 53rd minute before Earlsdon scored 13 unanswered points to see them home.
The match started with Earlsdon looking bright in attack but Kenilworth’s defence held firm to prevent the Coventry side from breaking through. They withstood the early Earlsdon pressure for much of the opening 15 minutes before gaining territory in the opposition half.
Once Kenilworth had ventured into Earlsdon’s half it did not take them long to convert that field position into points. In a well-worked move, captain Bobby Thompson put the first points of the match on the board with a try in the left-hand corner. The conversion from Simon Tyler fell just short of the uprights from out wide.
Ten minutes later, and with Kenilworth’s defence once again standing firm, Earlsdon were awarded a penalty for their attacking efforts. The kick fell just short, however, and the score remained at 5-0 as the half-hour mark approached.
It was at that point that Kenilworth extended their lead, once again ensuring they came away with something from a period of pressure in the Earlsdon 22. In a similar fashion to the opening try, Kenilworth almost crossed before prop Dan Roberts burrowed his way over the line, again in the left-hand corner, to double his side’s advantage. Tyler was again short with the difficult conversion.
The second half began in a similar vein to the first, with Earlsdon working their way into Kenilworth territory and their efforts were rewarded after 47 minutes when the referee blew for a penalty. However, the kick drifted wide of the uprights in the Barkers’ Butts breeze.
Six minutes later, Earlsdon were awarded their third penalty and this time Callum Forsyth made no mistake.
As the match wore on Earlsdon began to get a foothold in the game, testing a Kenilworth defence that had been so strong.
Their efforts paid off with 15 minutes to go as they eventually broke through to cross the line.
Rob Fisher scooped up a loose ball inside his own half and sprinted to score a counter-attacking try in the left-hand corner. The conversion fell just short to leave Kenilworth with a slender two-point advantage.
Earlsdon were soon back on the scoreboard, this time through Martin Wood. His try nudged his side into a three-point lead with nine minutes to play, with the conversion attempt again unsuccesful.
Kenilworth continued to pressure the Earlsdon defence as the match drew to a close with some excellent penalty kicks to the corner from fly-half Alex Selby gaining them ground and giving them an excellent attacking platform.
However, his side were unable to take advantage and Earlsdon held on to retain the shield.
Kenilworth are back in action tomorrow when they return to league action at Berkswell & Balsall (2.15pm).