Kenilworth 18 Old Laurentians 14 Midlands One West
Not for the first time this season OLs left their supporters perplexed, wondering how they could pull off a fine win against high flying Hereford a week earlier then slump to defeat with a lacklustre performance against a Kenilworth side who had just one win to show from their previous eight games.
Kenilworth deserved the win as, on the day, they were marginally the better of two ordinary sides, establishing what turned out to be a match winning 15-6 lead by half time. OLs did fight back after the break to narrow the margin and give themselves a chance of the win points, but lacked the creativity and drive to break down a stubborn home defence.
After a bright opening when Troy Owen put in a penetrating run down the left wing, Dan O’Brien gave OLs an early lead with a finely struck penalty from wide out after just two minutes. But with ten minutes gone, OLs went behind to a try for Kenilworth, created for them by a poorly directed kick out of defence. K’s scrum half Renowden, who was a threat to the visitors throughout, ran the ball back with acres of space ahead of him and four passes later number eight Wadey was crossing the line unhindered.
O’Brien slotted another penalty to restore OLs lead at 6-5 after 14 minutes but five minutes later Kenilworth recovered the lead after more indifferent play by OLs, who lost a scrum on their head deep in their 22 for Kenilworth to take full advantage and send fly half Glover over for a simple try, Hickman converting for 12-6 with 19 minutes gone.
When Hickman added a long range penalty on the half hour mark, Kenilworth had stretched out to 15-6 and looked good value for the lead. There was a flurry of attacks from OLs as the break approached, both Ben Shepherd and Iain Wallis going close, but Kenilworth’s defence was firm and they held their lead going into half time.
OLs stepped up a gear after changing ends and a penalty attempt by O’Brien missed by inches. A fine touch finder by the 10 then took play deep into Kenilworth territory, the ball was overthrown by Kenilworth at the lineout for OLs to win possession and send Shepherd over the line, but he had put a foot into touch on the way. Then an attack going left looked to be reaching Owen in space, a situation the wing relishes, but the final pass to him was poorly directed and he had to stop to take it, so a gilt edged chance went begging.
OLs did reap a reward for their endeavour after 22 minutes when a lineout in Kenilworth’s 22 was driven some 15 metres and over the line for Dom Hammond to touch down. O’Brien, surprisingly, failed to add the goal points, but did slot a penalty six minutes later and OLs had hauled themselves right back into the game at 14-15. But they failed to land any more telling punches, Hickman kicked another penalty to lift Kenilworth to 18-14 and the game petered out with neither side threatening to add to the score.
Continued on page 92
OLs took a losing bonus point but it was not enough to stave off the risk of losing their Midlands 1 status as all the other sides in the relegation battle won, each against higher rated opponents, to make OLs effort look very feeble. With league champions Lichfield visiting Fenley Field for the last league game of the season this Saturday it will take a major improvement by OLs to get anything out of the game and their fate is now largely in the hands of others. But OLs can cling on to the fact that the only two sides to have beaten Lichfield this season, Whitchurch and Stoke, have both lost to OLs at Fenley Field in the last three months – so maybe there is a glimmer of light.
But the future looks very bright!
An air of gloom may have descended over OL’s camp after Saturday’s defeat at Kenilworth but early arrivals at the ground would have been treated to a fine display of all round rugby by Old Laurentians’ Under 12 side. They played a 13-a-side game against their Kenilworth counterparts on the pitch at Glasshouse Lane as a curtain raiser to the 1st XV clash, using most of the pitch and as a taster of what they can expect when moving up into the Junior ranks as an under 13 side next season.
OLs put on a performance that had seasoned observers marvelling at their versatility and maturity as they chalked up a win by an overwhelming 9 tries to nil. Since OLs first introduced mini and junior rugby this side have come up through the age groups from under 7 under the watchful eye of coach Dan Volkman, now supported by Dan Hughes as joint coach. Playing set moves to near perfection they had too much firepower for a game and plucky Kenilworth side and had Volkman purring with pleasure over their display. If this is the future for OLs, it looks very bright indeed!