Blackburn Braves Catch Kendal Cold
Tremendous turnaround after Ramsgreave Rout
Only a few short weeks ago we were treated to a champagne celebration of running rugby by the young men on Kendal, who put 9 tries on us just a week or two after we had walked off the Littleborough pitch feeling 10 feet tall. A sobering and rather nasty taste was left, so it was with a little trepidation that we set off up the M6 today, although we saw the return of 3 of our standout back players who were missing in late November.
Kendal's Mintbridge facility is outstanding, and the locals kindly afforded us the use of the first team pitch for this game, which was billiard table flat and firm, whilst also lovely and wide, perfect for a fast running game. Training focus had been all about moving the ball wide and hopefully the message would have sunk in.
We received from the kick off and the game was on and it was not long before Kendal realised this was not the team they had beaten so easily. A sparkling run along the left wing by young Toby W, followed by deft interplay between the winger and full back saw the ball eventually dotted down (just) by our debutant Tom M, just the start of a tremendous performance from the young Sedburgh talent. The conversion went begging from Arthurs boot out wide but the stage was set for a perfectly dominant first half that saw Kendal struggle to gain a decent foothold. The Blackburn defence was outstanding today, and the work of our forwards in holding up mauls, dominating scrums and (uncontested) lineouts was phenomenal. Time after time the Kendal lads found themselves wrapped up by the likes of Toby W, then picked up by the everpresent Harry G, who used his considerable height to deny the Kendal lads the rescue of the ground. 20 minutes in and Tobi darted and jinked his way under the defence to score Blackburn's second, converted by Tom F, and thing were looking good all over the park. Tom continued to pressure Kendal with deft cross field kicks, which Arthur and Jacob competed for manfully, while Tom M and Harry R dinked some lovely balls over the rushing Kendal defence to make sure the Cumbrians were always facing the wrong way and under immense pressure. The pressure finally paid off with a 3rd try in the first half, beautifully finished off by Jacob D, slicing his way through the defence to dot down in a similar position to the first try and put us into a commanding 17-0 half time lead.
Kendal were not happy bunnies to say the least and were keen to remind us of how good they could be on the restart. They had a strong bench that included some excellent scrumagers, and their first real push of the game took our lads by surprise, taking our scrum agains the head, then finishing the job nicely underneath the posts. The conversion was missed, and the wake up call went out soon to be answered by the ever improving Johnny H, who powered through the whole Kendal back line to score under the posts, giving Tom F and easy conversion. There then followed the best part of the whole game, where Kendal through the whole kitchen, not just the sink at us, and failed in at least three attempts to break our line. Tobi brilliantly stole Kendal ball just a yard out, only to be bundled over out try line to concede a 5 m scrum, which we then contested brilliantly, then we repelled 3 or 4 more close attacks before finally holding another maul up to win our own 5 m scrum. Arthur duly relieved the pressure with one of his trademark cannon kicks, but unfortunately Kendal were able to regroup and did finally score a try from their efforts. Valuable time had been eaten up however, and a marker had been laid down to Kendal that there was no easy score on this occasion. Once again the conversion was missed, and we were off again to put the pressure on down the Kendal end. This last 10 minutes of so was fairly nip and tuck, with both teams locked in a good arm wrestle. The final score went to Blackburn, who again used the width of the pitch well, putting pressure on the Kendal line out and backs to force another lineout on the right wing, then moving the ball beautifully down through the backs right hand passed to give Jacob his second try, once again, under the Kendal posts. Birthday boy Josh stepped up to score that most rare of things, a hookers conversion. Final whistle, 10-33
All in all then a great day, and all credit to Kendal who never gave up in front of their adoring home fans packed into the fab grandstand. We are back in Cup action again next weekend away at Southport, which will hopefully see us build on this impressive performance.