Malvern take the honours in terrific game of rugby
Kenilworth 31 Malvern 37
Malvern opened the second half of the season with a difficult trip to old rivals Kenilworth, aware that the Warwickshire side would be looking to close the gap between the two teams. The Spring Lane side started well, recycling the ball and taking play to Kenilworth, but it was the Glasshouse Lane unit who scored first with a penalty. The game was being played at a high tempo by both sides although they were frequently both penalised for holding on to the ball too long in the tackle by the keen young referee. Once they had sorted out this problem, the game ebbed and flowed at pace, giving the large crowd plenty of entertainment. As Malvern went on the attack and looked to threaten, a pass was intercepted by K's scrum half Gaz Renowden. The veteran of many games against Malvern seized on the opportunity to run through and increase the lead with a converted try. Malvern responded almost immediatley as they pounced on a loose ball which was deftly moved across the line for Luke Milton to score. They were unlucky not to score again before half time as a kick and chase was touched down, but was adjudged to have been knocked on.
Turning round at 10-5 down, Malvern now had the wind and sun in their favour, but it was Kenilworth who scored first, winning a scrum against the head then opening up the Malvern defence to stretch the lead to 12 points. The Worcestershire side again responded, taking the ball into home territory and winning a penalty and subsequent line-out. A controlled catch and drive move saw Glen Potter's touch down narrow the gap. As Malvern took control for a period they won a penalty 45 metres out which Rob Cook slotted over to reduce the deficit to four points. With their tails up, Malvern again moved the ball well into K's half, winning a penalty to set up another catch and drive, Liam Roleston this time the scorer to take the lead for the first time. Cook converted and when Tom Hale won a kick and chase to give a 10 point lead after Cook's conversion, Malvern appeared to have the game in the bag. Not so, however, as Kenilworth went on the attack and a Malvern clearance kick was charged down for the home team to score a converted try. Showing renewed confidence Kenilworth ran the ball at Malvern from their own 22 area and for once the visiting defence was unable to halt the move as the lead was retaken with a converted try. Finding themselves four points behind once again Malvern had to draw on reserves of character, and they replied in style as the ball was once again spread wide and Hale scorched through, having dumped his opposite number on the ground for the fourth time, Cook's conversion giving his team a three point cushion. Into the last few minutes, Malvern managed to retain possession, working their way into the home half and setting up a Cook dropped goal. Surviving a final scare as Kenilworth once more came close, Malvern were elated and perhaps relieved to hear the final whistle.
Both sets of supporters agreed what a wonderful advertisement the game had been for open rugby, played in good spirit by both sides and without any niggle. Whilst Malvern did make life difficult for themselves by gifting a couple of tries, Kenilworth showed great character as both sides played at a high speed for the full 80 minutes and were equal partners in a match which would have graced a much higher level.
Malvern now host Leamington on Saturday, kicking off at 2.15pm at Spring Lane.
Highlights of the game will soon be available on Kenilworth's YouTube GlasshouseTV channel.