Kendal 13 (8) v Percy Park 34 (18)
Saturday 23rd March 2013
On a day when much of Cumbria was in the grip of arctic conditions, the Mint Bridge pitch was soft and green, but a freezing wind made the temperature feel well below zero.
Kendal had been forced to re-organise their back division, with outside half Chris Park dropping out. Luke Jacobs came in at fullback, Dan Lowther moving to centre and Simon Davison into the outside half shirt.
Visitors Percy Park were in fourth position in the table, but were twenty points behind third place Sandal, and thirty three behind second place Chester.
Park started the stronger and Kendal spent the opening exchanges defending. Park outside half Ashley Smith, almost judged the strong wind perfectly with an early penalty from near the touchline, which hit the post. The resulting relieving kick was run back and a cross field passing movement found flanker Jack Davison at the end of an overlap, to open the scoring after seven minutes of play. With another difficult kick, Smith improved on his earlier attempt and converted from close to the touchline. 0v7.
There was a further blow for Kendal as influential scrum half Dini Nayo had been injured in the move and had to leave the field on a stretcher. With no back subs’ on the bench, he was replaced by flanker James Thompson, with Liam Nicholson moving onto the wing and Simon Davidson to his normal scrum half role, with Dan Lowther moving to outside half.
Percy Park continued to dominated, regularly stretching the Kendal defence which managed to hold firm, until after a quarter of an hour, Park extended their lead when No 8. Stu Wilson made a break from a scrum close to the line, with Smith converting. 0v14.
Kendal finally started to come in to the game, but did not have the cutting edge to breakdown the Park defence. They did reduce the lead through a well struck Dan Lowther penalty, into the very strong wind. 3v14.
Despite the freezing conditions both teams were moving the ball at every opportunity, and surprisingly few passes were dropped. Excellent Park support play made it difficult for Kendal to regularly get any control of the ball to set up their own attacking opportunities, but Dan Lowther and Garry Holmes looked for gaps whenever they had the ball.
After thirty five minutes, what had initially seemed a good clearing kick, was run back by Park, and after good interplay between a number of players, centre Phil Morse finished the move 3v19.
Kendal had further injury problems as fullback Luke Jacobs, had been injured, whilst chasing the original kick from defence, and soon had to leave the field, which saw second row Ben Leacock come on as a substitute. This led to another re-organisation of the back division, with flanker Dan Greenwood having to move to the wing, and Jamie Postlethwaite to fullback.
Despite having a good lead, Park were regularly been penalised by referee Charles Erasmus, for slowing Kendal ball. After a warning to the captain, first flanker Ben Bell, then two minutes later prop Michael Birkett were sent to the sin bin, reducing Park to thirteen players.
Kendal used their advantage in numbers and after a lot of good work, Garry Holmes was on hand for a try to reduce the half time deficit to 8v19.
Restored to fifteen men, Park started the second half strongly, and again what had appeared a good clearing kick was run back, for fullback Michael Stephenson to score. 8v24.
Kendal’s injury woes continued, with Dan Lowther being the latest to have to leave the field. With Ian Thompson being the last man on the bench, he found himself playing as a flanker, with Garry Holmes becoming an emergency centre and Jason Poleman becoming the latest player in the outside half position.
Poleman made an excellent weaving break, and whilst Simon Davidson was in support, when Poleman was finally stopped in the twenty two, the pass went astray and the chance was gone.
Poleman made another break out of defence, but when stopped he was stripped of the ball by a Park replacement, who made a long run, before timing a pass to right wing Alistair Blair to score. Despite the dreadful conditions for kicking, outside half Ashley Smith managed to again hit a post with the difficult conversion attempt. 8v29.
Park increased their lead further almost immediately when gaps appeared on the left wing, to allow an easy run to the line for flanker Jack Davidson. 8v34.
Kendal continued to look for openings with captain Liam Hayton having an excellent game. They were finally rewarded late in the game, when the forwards set up a long rolling maul from a line out for Alistair Livesey to emerge with the try. Stand in kicker Simon Davidson could not convert from near the touchline. 13v29.
Kendal finished the game strongly, with the forwards battering the Park line looking for a third try but were denied.
Despite the score line, and the problems caused by injury, leading to regular rearrangement of the back division, this was a much more positive performance, especially in attack. If it had not been for occasional lapses in concentration and missed tackles, the result should have been much closer.
15 Luke Jacobs [rep : Ben Leacock]
14 Alistair Thompson
13 Jason Poleman
12 Dan Lowther [rep : Ian Thompson]
11 Jamie Postletwaite
10 Simon Davidson
9 Dini Nayo [rep : James Thompson]
1 Alistair Livesey
2 Duncan Green
3 Richard Harriman
4 Liam Hayton (C)
5 Reece Tomlinson
6 Dan Greenwood
7 Liam Nicholson
8 Garry Holmes
15 Michael Stephenson
14 Alistair Blair
13 Phil Morse
12 James Bird
11 Howard Stock
10 Ashley Smith
9 Jimmy Baldwin
1 Michael Birkett
2 Andrew Dunn
3 George Purdy
4 Michael Langlands
5 Sean Williamson
6 Stu Wilson
7 Jack Davidson
8 Ben Bell
Referee : Charles Erasmus