Kirkby Lonsdale 10-27 Kendal
Unease at Underley
Kirkby Lonsdale 10 v 27 Kendal
A personal view by Cammie Hodgkinson
Overcast and rainy with the clouds sticking to the surrounding fells like yesterdays porridge to the pan, but the atmosphere wasn’t gloomy at Underley Park. Having hauled a bonus point win away from Wilmslow last Saturday this was Kirkby’s first home league game in this team rebuilding season of 2018/19 and anticipation was high since in these modern times this closely fought ‘local derby’ has become one of the biggest sporting events in the county. The last time these teams met Kendal had inched home by two points at home last season, but earlier in the season Kirkby had won convincingly at home and prior to that had had the better of recent exchanges, that’s how it is nowadays between these sides, kick off and see what happens.
Kirkby didn’t need any more disruptions but that’s what they got when Skipper, Dave Barton, withdrew late on having not recovered from the ankle injury he got at Wilmslow. Tom Pickthall came off the bench to start at twelve as Captain, Lewis Williams came onto the bench alongside Leandro Kwiczor and new boy and prop, Braden Schiller.
No official figure yet but there were probably around fifteen hundred spectators watching as Kirkby kicked off towards the town but it was Kendal who showed the early fire and determination pinning Kirkby deep in their own half, a sequence of penalties to touch helping the visitors to maintain their pressure.
As expected the Kendal lineout was safe as houses but not as solid as their scrum and their domination of these two crucial set pieces in the early phases was a clear indication of what Kirkby were to be up against on the day. That said, for all Kendal’s early pressure there were still no scores on the board at the end of the first quarter which saw the visitors lose their number fifteen, Zane Butler, to injury. Wing, Dini Noyo, dropping to full back where with that little bit of extra space and time and assisted by some speculative clearance kicking from Kirkby he was to have a major influence on the game.
As the game progressed Kirkby had weathered the early storm and were beginning to find some form and after twenty five minutes they had their first chance of points with a long range penalty, but although Mike Fearon’s kick was dead centre it was inches short. Kendal hit back with a good attacking move down their left and looked to have scored but the final pass was forward and from the scrum near their own line it was Kirkby’s turn with a searing run out of defence by scrum half Ben Walker. A run in which a couple of side steps and four dummies left many defenders stranded, brought a roar from the crowd and took him all the way to just inside the Kendal twenty two where he was finally held. The ball was fed back, Fearon cleverly chipped over the defence and outside centre, Scott Armstrong, picked up cleanly to complete the move and power over for the try. Unconverted but against the run of play Kirkby were ahead 5 – 0 after thirty five minutes.
With the clock running into injury time at the end of the first half Noyo made his only mistake of the day when he dropped a high ball just inside his own half. Kirkby’s left wing, Harry Huddleston, was on hand to scoop it up and he was away down the left touchline pursued by Kendal stand off, Glen Weightman, it was a hopeless pursuit and Huddleston was over by the corner flag for Kirkby’s second try. Again unconverted but with two opportunistic tries from scant possession Kirkby led 10 – 0 at the break and Kendal must have been wondering how that happened.
But that was as good as it got for the home side. Kendal’s second half kick off was taken cleanly by Kirkby but an ill judged and unnecessary kick back downfield was taken by Noyo deep in his own half and he returned the compliment of Walker’s run with one of his own. His pace and power cutting through Kirkby far too easily to just a few metres short of the line and although he was eventually held the ball was recycled for the try, the conversion making it 10 – 7 with one second half minute played.
Three minutes later it was level when Kendal’s new centre with National 1 experience, Jack Blakeney Edwards, slotted an easy penalty to tie the scores at 10 – 10 and a few moments of carelessness and naivety had cost Kirkby their hard earned lead and restored the belief in Kendal that they could win the game.
A penetrating run from flanker Stu Storey did restore a little pride for Kirkby but this was undone a few moments later when Huddleston knocked on going for an interception on half way. In that area of the pitch he was perhaps unlucky to get a straight yellow card when a penalty might have sufficed and things got immediately worse, the penalty for the knock on put Kendal on the attack from a lineout inside the Kirkby twenty two and in defence Kirkby’s number six, Dave Maka, got a straight red for an illegal tackle on Kendal’s Danny Barker and Kirkby were down to thirteen men at the end of the third quarter.
With a two man advantage it was all Kendal and from a scrum they drove Kirkby off their ball resulting in a penalty in front of the posts which gave Kendal the lead at 10 – 13 with fifteen minutes to play, and this was followed five minutes later by a converted try extending their lead to 10 – 20.
Kirkby did have moments but they were few and an example of the home state of mind was apparent when a Kendal penalty drifted wide of the left post, the ball was caught in the try zone but not grounded and when it was thrown to the kicker for the twenty two dropout the ref called the forward pass and gave Kendal a five metre scrum. This was a formality as Kendal drove easily over the line for their third try converted in the thirty ninth minute for the final score 10 – 27, this unfortunate mistake might have unbalanced the score a little but it was game over and there was no doubting that the more determined and better side on the day had won.
One minor success story for Kirkby was the diligent performance of Jake from the U12s and Seth from the U11s who supplied clean dry balls to the respective hookers all day. One major success story was the excellent performance of Braden Schiller when he came on into the front row but around him there is much work to be done, and done soon.
1 Dan Thompson
2 Alex Briggs
3 Ross Hobbs
4 Craig Galbraith
5 James Thompson
6 Dave Maka
7 Stu Storey
8 Alex Rogers
9 Ben Walker
10 Mike Fearon
11 Harry Huddleston
12 Tom Pickthall ( C )
13 Scott Armstrong
14 Harry Ralston
15 Matt Bargh