West Hartlepool 28 (14) Kendal 19 (0)
Saturday 13th October 2012
Kendal travelled to the North Sea coast, and whilst the ground was soft, conditions were otherwise prefect for open rugby.
Simon Mulholland and Dan Lowther returned to give extra pace in the back division, whilst young prop Dom Musetti made his first start of the season, in what could be his last game before a move to Harrogate, to play closer to his University.
Early exchanges saw the two strong packs tested each other out, and it was West Hartlepool who had the first chance to open the scoring, but a penalty came back off the posts. Shortly after West scrum half Ryan Painter scored, when his pack had wheeled a scrum near the Kendal line, and a pass from No 8 Stu Grazier. Outside half Stu Waites converted for a 7v0 lead.
After quarter of an hour, Kendal were down to fourteen men for ten minutes, after lock Reece Tomlinson was sent to the sin bin for a punch as he entered a ruck. The period was survived fairly easily, and Kendal even set up their first scoring chance deep in the Hartlepool twenty two. Twice they chose not to take the points from penalties, and were punished when from the second, the ball was lost in mid-field and Hartlepool right wing Greg Edwards, made a strong break, before chipping ahead to win the chase to the line, for his team’s second try. Waites converted again to give his team a 14v0 half time lead.
The previous two weekends, Kendal had narrowed big deficits immediately after half time, but this time they were themselves punished, when from a scrum after kick off, Hartlepool replacement scum half Andrew Foreman made an instant impact, to extend the lead to 21v0 after the conversion from Waites.
As the half progressed, the Kendal pack were gaining control and Hartlepool started to give away a string of penalties. Dan Lowther put one into the Hartlepool twenty two and the Kendal forwards drove to the try line, with Garry Holmes credited with the try, to reduce the lead to 21v5
In the absence of regular hooker Duncan Green, who was celebrating the birth of his second child. Holmes had taken on the role of putting the ball in to the lineout, and was building an excellent partnership with Reece Tomlinson to secure possession for the forwards, to put their opposite numbers under pressure. Richard Harriman, who had come on as substitute for Glenn Chester late in the first half, was the next to emerge with a try after a drive from a lineout. Chris Park put over the conversion and the gap was reduced to 21v12.
Play was now moving from end to end, with Hartlepool’s open rugby, contrasting with Kendal strong tight play.
After twenty five minutes, all the forwards’ hard work was wiped out, when the Kendal defence went to sleep and West’s outside half Waites was able to weave his way through for a try, which he converted himself to open the gap to 28v12.
Tensions boiled over and Kendal prop Chesher, back on the field for Musetti, and West flanker Jon Boatman, were given Yellow cards, to reduce the game to fourteen a side.
After being forced to award further penalties against West, referee Peter Stentiford patience finally ran out, and he sent West replacement Nathan Myers to the sin bin. This gave extra space for Richard Harriman to score his second try. This time a solo effort from short range. Park’s conversion brought the score to 28v19 with five minutes to go.
More penalties saw Kendal finish the game on the attack, looking for the try which would have seen them leave with two bonus points, but when the forwards failed to find a way through, a switch to the backs saw a pass go astray, and Kendal ended the game empty handed, for the first time this season.
Alarm bells are starting to sound, as Kendal drift towards the foot of the table. With four of the top five teams still to play at the end of the first half of the season, the games at home to Lymm next weekend, and away at Birkenhead Park the following week, become “must win”.
15 Simon Mulholland [rep : Andrew Boardley]
14 Kale Hutchings
13 Alistair Thompson
12 Dan Lowther
11 Nathan Woof
10 Chris Park
9 Simon Davidson
1 Dom Musetti [rep Glenn Chester]
2 Dave Peacock
3 Glen Chesher [rep Richard Harriman]
4 Liam Hayton (captain)
5 Reece Tomlinson
6 Peter Redhead
7 Tom Voke
8 Garry Holmes
15 Colin Cheslin
14 Greg Edwards
13 Andrew Cheslin
12 Luke Watson
11 Steve Jones
10 Stu Waites
9 Ryan Painter [rep Andrew Foreman]
1 Ian Pinchen
2 Andrew Rollins
3 Adam Coates
4 Andrew Davies
5 Michael Hogan
6 Dan Boatman
7 Jon Boatman
8 Stewart Grazier