The absence of support in contact to establish some go-forward and a lack of control when under pressure led to another frustrating afternoon for the Kenilworth, writes Peter Jones.
It was a bright but blowy day and the the wind was, inevitably, a major factor, but despite the first-half advantage Kenilworth struggled to gain territory or possession and spent most of the period defending.
Walsall were a physically bigger and more mature side but some heroic scrambling defence denied the hosts several tryscoring opportunities, with Rhys Jones’ tap tackle ten metres out preventing a score from a three-man overlap.
There were some individual flurries by the returning James Wadey, Gaz Renowden, Jonny Cresswell and Ross Lowthian but the attacks were launched in ones and twos and Kenilworth were consistently outmuscled and outplayed at the breakdown.
Walsall took an early 3-0 lead with a penalty from centre Roger Weston, with Hickman levelling the scores in the 20th minute with a fine kick.
Hickman continued to relieve the pressure with some fine touch kicking taking advantage of the wind but the omens did not look good leading up to half-time, centre Joe Yeomanson doing well to survive a collision with the whole of the Walsall midfield after a laboured back line move.
After the break, and with Kenilworth playing into the strong wind, Walsall’s pressure continued. The hosts added another penalty to take them 6-3 up and shortly afterwards, Walsall pressure told when their feisty winger crossed for the first try of the game. The score went unconverted.
Winger Joe Jepps was injured in a brave tackle and replaced by James Nichol, who made an immediate impact on the game.
Receiving the ball well inside his own half, Nichol linked well with the outstanding Lowthian and received the ball again 40 metres out, bouncing off players like a pinball to score a splendid try.
Hickman converted to close the deficit to a point.
Unfortunately, in the last quarter of the game, Kenilworth displayed a weakness which has plagued them in the last few games: the inability to do the basics well under pressure.
Two crucial lineouts were lost in short order, one from an attacking position which enabled the defenders to clear the ball some 70 metres.
Another which was not thrown in straight resulted in an attacking scrum from which the hosts scored a decisive try, having earlier added a penalty.
The conversion was added to take them to into a 21-10 lead and not even the arrival of Italian international Marco Stanojevic could change the course of the match.
Tomorrow’s clash with Whitchurch will be preceded by a ladies’ lunch which includes a glass of prosecco and canapes on arrival followed by a three-course meal for £20.
To book a place, contact Serena Roberts on 07764 188040 or at firstname.lastname@example.org