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RUGBY: Victorious Kesteven are out of the blocks quickly

Weekend rugby union preview.
Weekend rugby union preview.

Midlands League 3

East (North)

Kesteven 57

Aylestone St James 10

Early afternoon at Woodnook saw all four seasons with wind, sun, snow and rain all present during the warm-up.

Eventually the weather settled on a murky grey but dry day. Kesteven’s team had a more settled look about it with some usual faces returning to the fold.

The home team came out of the blocks early with pressure leading to penalties being conceded. This early possession saw Kesteven get their first try on the board after only three minutes when scrum half Addlesee dived over from close range. Aaron Whittaker kicked the conversion.

In open play, Kesteven kicked ahead to be chased hard by Whittaker and Wood. The ball bobbled up into Wood’s path, allowing him to dot down.

On the 18th minute, Kesteven carved out a cast iron chance through the slick passing of Wood, the ball finding its way to Goodrich to set Whittaker free. The pass did not go to hand but Whittaker got his chance later on and burned away the defence to go over on the 23rd minute.

The Black Army’s strong attacking shape was leading to opportunities for all 15 players across the pitch. From a strong line-out position. the impressive tighthead Gavin Purvis found space to dot down on the full stretch. This was converted to make the score 28-0 on the 28th minute.

Ks had a very dangerous back three ,with Whittaker, Jordan and Cartwright all offering pacey attacks. One of these came to fruition when Whittaker set Rupert Jordan free. The winger still had a lot of work to do but he finished strongly, showing the pace to make the afternoon’s champagne moment.

With the score at 35-0, Aylestone kicked into gear. The Leicestershire team sent a straightforward attack between the centres. Aylestone drew the full back and set their winger in for a consolation score.

Shortly before half time, a great Kesteven attack led to Wood virtually handing the ball to Goodrich to score.

The second half was a more stodgy affair than the first, with the visiting team attempting to slow the ball down at all opportunities.

The Black Army scored again on the 53rd minute when a strong series of forwards drives saw Goodrich get his second try.

The visitors then suffered two yellow cards as their repeated attempts to stem the tide saw them turn to illegal measures. Aylestone’s only relief came when a series of knock ons led to them scooping up the ball to score.

Kesteven scored two more tries before the end, courtesy of Payne and Sayle.

Tony Woolerton picked up the man of the match award.

Kesteven: Whittaker, R. Jordan, Jepson, Goodrich, Cartwright, Wood, Addlesee, Osbourne, Sheardown, Purvis, Pert, Cowley, Payne, Woolerton, Sayle. Reps: Webster, Odams, Parker.

Notts Pennant League

Group 2

Ashbourne 3rd 27

Kesteven 2nd 17

Kesteven suffered only their second defeat, in what has been another stellar campaign thus far, against an Ashbourne 3rd boosted by second string players.

Ashbourne were quick to take the initiative and gain a foothold in the Kesteven half. Seeing the Kesteven back line up flat, Ashbourne put a perfectly weighted kick in which just held up for the on-rushing winger to dot down for the opening score, which was converted with ease.

Kesteven needed a quick reply and eventually they worked an overlap on the right hand side and fly half Tom Price put in a great miss pass. Daz Blackley held the last defender and timed his pass well to put Ian Charles in at the corner.

Ashbourne replied with a copycat try of their first but on the opposite wing, as a kick through produced defensive chaos. A difficult out wide conversion was again slotted with ease by the Ashbourne scrum half.

Ks were awarded a penalty on the home side’s 22. A tap was taken and good forward work eventually tied in enough defenders to open up play. Ed Cole found himself in the centres and needed no second invitation to straighten the line and cross for Kesteven’s second try. This time Price was successful with his kick to take the game to 14-12 at half time.

Ashbourne pressured the Kesteven defence after the break and eventually the home side were awarded a penalty. Clearly, Ashbourne were interested in only securing victory and slotted the three point kick with ease; something they replicated minutes later with another penalty kick.

With the score at 20-12, Kesteven were looking increasingly desperate. Unable to effectively move up field and finding themselves camped on their own line, they were forced to hold up two attempted tries.

Seemingly having weathered this storm, a third opportunity was eventually given by the referee despite having no clear site of any grounding. The simple conversion was spotted and Ks were staring at a 27-12 deficit.

From the kick-off, Ks tore back at Ashbourne and Simon Morgan put in a delightful chip which he followed up to catch, but the scoring pass could not be found.

With pride at stake, Kesteven pounded the Ashbourne line, with Dan Singer coming up just short. Eventually pressure told and the returning Ben Betts crashed through the centre to score a trademark try. The conversion attempt just went wide and there was not enough time to launch another meaningful attack.

Kesteven: Mawby, Cole, A. Clift-Hill, Singer, L. Vincent, Danford, Armstrong, Friel, Morgan, A. Price, Charles, P. Jordan, Betts, Ryder, Blackley. Reps: Biff, Roughan.

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