Kendal 41 (17) v Billingham 31 (5)
Saturday 13th April 2013
After last week’s result, there was unsurprisingly some big gaps on the touchline at Mint Bridge, but the crowd was bolstered by a large contingent from Billingham, many in Hawaiian fancy dress which sadly was not matched by the weather.
Billingham started the game well, and soon had Kendal penned in their twenty two, with Kendal having little option but to kick to touch when they had the ball, to temporarily relieve the pressure.
Having weathered the early storm, Kendal were soon into the game and opened the scoring after nine minutes. After good interplay in midfield had set up a position in the Billingham twenty two, the forwards pounded the line, with Richard Harryman coming up with the opening try. 5v0.
Instead of, as so often this season, switching off after a score, and immediately conceding, Kendal came straight back into the game from the kick off, and a move finally broken down in the Billingham twenty two, when they were penalised for not releasing the ball after a tackle.
Billingham were on the attack, after right wing Luke Wilson broke clear and chipped ahead, but the move broken down with a knock on.
For Kendal, Liam Hayton made a good break from defence, continued by Simon Mulholland to set up a good position in the Billingham twenty two. Simon Davidson somehow managed to cling on to a poor pass and took the move forward, before it broke down with a knock on. Billingham were disrupted by the loss of a forward to injury, and the Kendal pack took full advantage by stealing the ball at the resulting scrum. Again the forwards pounded the line, and finally, despite being stopped before the line, Billy Coxon was able to stretch out to touchdown for the second try. With all the regular kickers injured or unavailable, Simon Davidson took on the role, and converted. 10v0.
Billingham were back in the game two minutes later. Kendal were penalised for not rolling away after a tackle, and the penalty was quickly moved to the right for a try in the corner by left wing Craig Shepherd 10v5.
Kendal continued to put pressure on Billingham, and the forwards were totally dominating the line out and scrum, where the forwards efforts were not being rewarded, as the referee missed regular obstruction of Kendal scrum half Dini Nayo, as he went in search of loose ball.
At the end of normal time in the first half the referee penalised the Billingham fullback for being ahead of his kicker, as he chased a kick out of defence. Rather than take a kick at goal, Kendal opted for a scrum, and the forwards set up a maul, from which second row Reece Thomlinson broke away to score from close range.
Kendal turned around with a 17v5 half time lead, needing just one further try for a bonus point.
The bonus point try came after five minutes, after a run down the right wing by Peter Baynes. The ball was moved into the centre, with Jason Poleman taking the move on. The forwards then took the ball to the line, finished by scrum half Dini Nayo. 22v5
Billingham came back into the game, after the referee spotted a number of Kendal backs well offside in defence near halfway. After allowing a long period of advantage, he came back for the penalty. A clever cross field chip was gathered for a try in the left hand corner by right wing Luke Wilson. 22v10
Kendal continued to play well, and a strong break through the centre by flanker Liam Nicholson set them on their way to the next try. A penalty for offside was put to the line and the forwards rumbled to the try line for a second try by Reece Tomlinson. 27v10.
Better was to follow. Simon Davidson’s twenty two drop out, was fielded by wing Peter Baynes who made a long break down the right. When he was stopped prop Billy Coxon was in support to take the move on, and he was able to feed captain Liam Hayton, who galloped to the line for the try, with Simon Davidson putting over the easy conversion 34v10 with twenty five minutes to play.
The fantasy of a twenty four point lead, almost turned to a nightmare, as Billingham ran in twenty one unanswered points in five minutes.
First a long kick out of defence by Billingham, bounced favourably for fullback Peter Evans, who was able to gather and run in to score which he converted himself 34v17.
A second kick caused confusion in the Kendal defence, and Evans scored again on the left. 34v22
A further kick up field saw more confusion in the Kendal defence, with right wing Peter Baynes unable to gather a bouncing ball. The referee decided he had deliberately played the ball into touch with his hands, awarding a penalty and harshly sin binning him. Billingham took advantage by putting a grubber kick down his wing, for a try from left wing Luke Wilson which with Evans conversion, reduced the lead back to just three points. 34v31
Taking advantage of rolling substitutions, Kendal brought the youngest of their old heads, Garry Holmes, back on to the field and steadied the ship, although there were further mistakes.
A penalty awarded to Kendal was put to the corner, but indecision at the line out saw the referee award a penalty against them. When this was taken, the kick was easily dealt with by fullback Simon Mulholland, but Kendal were penalised for the tackle on the kicker, giving Billingham a good position from which to mount an attack.
This was dealt with, and Kendal set up good position of their own in the Billingham twenty two. When awarded an easy penalty in front of the posts, which would have meant Billingham needed a converted try to win, forward dominance and memories of the late late drama of the away fixture, saw Kendal instead opt for a scrum. The forwards drove well, and when the scrum broke up Garry Holmes took the ball on, after it was re-cycled, he was on hand again for the match sealing try. Simon Davidson put the conversion over for a ten point cushion going into injury time 41v31.
Kendal were not finished, and Dini made a break from defence down the right wing. The ball was moved across field and it looked as if Peter Baynes had scored his first try, but he had just put a foot in touch.
The forwards continued to put pressure on the Billingham line, but when the ball was held up on the line, at the resulting scrum the referee decided that the dominant Kendal scrum had been disrupted and instead awarded a scrum to Billingham. However when Kendal flanker Liam Nicholson gathered the clearance kick, he put the ball dead to end Kendal’s last home game of the season, with a memorable win.
Whilst Billingham may have been weakened by giving games to a number of squad players, they fielded nine of the team which took part in their home fixture, whilst Kendal had only eight of their team, including Simon Davidson now playing in the unaccustomed roles of outside half place kicker.
The bonus point win moves Kendal level with third bottom Birkenhead Park, but whatever happens next weekend at Burnage, that may be as good as it gets, as Park end their season with games against bottom West Hartlepool and fourth bottom Bradford & Bingley.
Things will not get easier for Billingham next weekend as they host Harrogate, who were knocked off the top spot by Chester, after their loss to Sandal. With just four points separating the three teams at the top, and Sandal finishing their season with a home game against fourth bottom Bradford & Bingley, where they will be expected to come away with maximum points, it could be Billingham’s chance to pull a surprise of their own.
15 Simon Mulholland
14 Peter Baynes
13 Jason Poleman
12 Alistair Thompson
11 Ian Voortman
10 Simon Davidson
9 Dini Nayo
1 Billy Coxon
2 Duncan Green
3 Richard Harriman
4 Liam Hayton (C)
5 Reece Tomlinson
6 James Thompson
7 Liam Nicholson
8 Garry Holmes
16 Dan Greenwood
17 Ben Leacock
18 Rob Wighman
15 Peter Evans
14 Luke Wilson
13 Anth Hyndman
12 Will Turnbull
11 Craig Shephard
10 Joe Evans (C)
9 Daniel Finney
1 Callum Cranston
2 Dave Reay
3 Sean Wallace
4 Steve Smith
5 Anthony Rumis
6 Paul Shephard
7 Phil Reay
8 Mike Evans
Referee : Paul Finken