A terrific battle in the mud slips away in injury time
Billingham 14 (0) Kendal 11 (0)
Saturday 22nd December 2012
Kendal travelled to the North East for this re-arranged fixture, after a mixture of a frozen pitch and heavy rain, had led to a waterlogged pitch a fortnight earlier. The weather again threatened the game, but the pitch was declared fit, and whilst very soft, and holding some surface water, it held up well throughout the game.
Injury and unavailability saw Simon Mullholland, Rob Quarry, Peter Redhead and Mark Bowman, come in to the Kendal starting line up.
Billingham started the stronger and adapted better to the conditions, but it was clear that conditions would lead to a lot of handing errors, which resulted in a string of scrumages, where the Kendal pack looked the stronger.
Slightly against the run of play, Kendal opened the scoring with a long range penalty from in front of the posts by outside half Dan Rayson. 0v3.
Despite the conditions, Billingham continued to move the ball at every opportunity, but the Kendal defence held strong, and no openings appeared. When Kendal were in the attack Mark Bowman and Richard Harryman frequently broke the Billingham defence, but lacked support when brought down.
After twenty five minutes, with Kendal coming more into the game, Rayson added a second long range penalty, after Billingham were caught offside, to extend the Kendal lead 0v6.
On the stroke of half time, with Kendal on the attack Rayson, spotted a gap in the Billingham defence and scythed through, before putting a long pass out to Dan Lowther who ran the try in. Rayson could not add the conversion, but with no stoppage time added, Kendal took an eleven point lead into half time.
It was fortunate that Billingham had floodlights, as by half time, the weather meant it was already dark.
The second half was almost one way traffic, with Billingham camped in the Kendal half. Too often when Kendal won the ball it was just kicked loosely back, for the opposition to mount another attack, but the Kendal defence continued to deal well with the assaults.
After twenty minutes Kendal made their one break into the Billingham half, and Rayson had the opportunity for another long range penalty, but it fell short.
Five minutes later Rob Quarry was yellow carded for a technical offence, and five minutes later Billingham finally found a way through the Kendal defence for a try from No. 8 Mike Evans, with a conversion from fullback Peter Evans 7v11.
Billingham continued to push for a further score, and their decision to spurn earlier kicks at goal, to instead look for a try, began to look as if it might have backfired.
Kendal held their lead into injury time, and each time play stopped, the anxious supporters looked for the final whistle, but the referee continued to played on.
Having won the ball, the Kendal forwards tried to run the clock down, but were penalised for failing to release the ball. Billingham took the penalty quickly, and having stretched the Kendal defence on the right touchline, the ball was moved to the left where replacement James Watson found a gap to score the match winning try in the seventh minute of stoppage time. Peter Evans added the conversion, and the referee immediately blew for full time.
So a disappointing end to a disappointing year, but otherwise a much improved performance, especially in defence.
15 Simon Mulholland
14 Alistair Thompson
13 Dinilesizwe Nayo (Dini)
12 Jason Poleman
11 Dan Lowther
10 Dan Rayson
9 Simon Davidson
1 Alistair Livesey
2 Duncan Green
3 Richard Harriman (C)
4 Rob Quarry
5 Reece Tomlinson
6 Peter Redhead
7 Dan White
8 Mark Bowman
15 Peter Evans
14 Will Turnbull
13 Anth Hyndman
12 Chris Hyndman
11 Craig Shephard
10 Joe Evans
9 Andy Evans
1 Steve Smith
2 Dave Reay
3 Steven Hutchinson
4 Paul Dalton
5 Dan Burns
6 Paul Shepherd
7 Dave Robinson
8 Mike Evans
Referee : Jamie Leahy