FLY-HALF Alex Selby put in his best performance of the season to steer Kenilworth to a 31-20 away victory against a strong Barkers’ Butts side, writes Peter Jones.
It was however, as the cliché goes, a game of two halves with the wind a dominating feature. Barkers’ opened the scoring with a penalty but only 10 minutes into the game, a fine break by Selby lead to a try by Ollie Burman, converted by Selby.
Another well-placed kick to touch by Selby forced an attacking line out, from which Hooker Harry Abell drove over in the company of the Kenilworth pack.
Kenilworth dominated possession, thanks to the hard graft of Mikkel Andresen, Sam Harrison and Nick Gerber in the back row, aided by locks Tondi Mpambawashe and Josh Fox. Kenilworth’s scrum was again dominant with Barkers’ routinely penalised, Dave Bromfield also proving prominent in open play.
With 30 minutes on the clock, Selby found touch with an excellent kick to the corner.
However, uncharacteristically, the line out throw went astray, leading to a defensive scrum for Barkers’.
Abell redeemed his minor misdemeanour by taking a strike against the head in the ensuing scrum, leading to a third try, this time from scrum-half Gareth Renowden.
The conversion was missed but Kenilworth had established a 19-3 lead.
Good attacking work by the Kenilworth backs lead to a textbook try by the versatile Rhys Jones from his position at outside centre, extending the lead to 24-3, adding the valuable bonus point in the process.
Before the half was out, a ruck on the Barkers’ line was followed by a magnificent jinking and swerving run from all of 50cm by prop Rhidian Booth, who scored under the posts.
Selby converted to establish a dominant 31-3 lead at the break.
The second half told a different story, however.
The home side used the wind to their advantage to gain ground and, with the increased possession, were able to use their strong and fast backs to good effect.
The back three of Garrett Bell, Burman and Tom Clayton were kept busy by a series of long ranging kicks from the Barkers’ fly half, but were generally solid in defence.
Kenilworth were kept in the game by some good work from centre Charlie Stevens at 12 and captain Renowden, but the home side added three tries during the second half to come uncomfortably within range.
However, Kenilworth’s early lead proved crucial.
The second half showed a slight dip in performance after the outstanding win the previous week but a five-point win is a five-point win and, to their credit, Barkers’ produced some fine attacking play.
Kenilworth now lead Midlands 2 West (South) with an eight-point margin over their nearest challengers, Old Laurentians.
The side are back in action this Saturday (2nd February) at home to Earlsdon (2:15pm).