RUGBY UNION: SCRUM half Gaz Renowden crossed twice to reach a century of tries for Kenilworth as the Midlands 1 West basement boys recorded a superb 39-24 victory away at Crewe & Nantwich on Saturday, reports Sophie Freestone.
The hosts took an early 5-0 lead after just two minutes, having deflected a threatening Kenilworth attack from the kick off but the visitors hit back straight away when Ed Hannam spotted a gap in the Crewe defence to dive over the whitewash, but Josh Hickman’s conversion was just wide of the mark on a breezy Cheshire afternoon.
With 12 minutes on the clock, Crewe nudged themselves back in front thanks to a fine solo effort from their hooker to restore a five-point lead but as the momentum swung back and forth Kenilworth drew level again.
It was that man Renowden who nipped through Crewe’s defence to score his 99th try in blue and yellow to make it 10-10.
Crewe were next on the scoresheet on 33 minutes with a well-worked try down the left touchline and this time the conversion was successful.
With the end of the first half fast approaching, Kenilworth took advantage of a line out just inside the Crewe 22, with Jamie Mapletoft cutting an excellent angle to go over from close range.
Hickman’s conversion rebounded off the uprights and the hosts went in to half time with a slender two-point lead.
While the opening 40 minutes was an even contest, the second half saw Kenilworth dominate proceedings and they took the lead for the first time in the match six minutes after the break.
A well-worked attack created space on the left for O’Brien, who raced past the scrambling Crewe defenders to secure a try bonus point. Hickman’s successful conversion gave his side a five-point advantage.
Hickman extended their lead after 62 minutes with a simple but important conversion that gave his side an eight-point lead at 25-17 and that penalty proved to be pivotal, with Crewe breaching the Kenilworth defence just two minutes later, and the conversion closing the gap to just a single point.
Kenilworth were hungry for victory however and the quick-thinking Renowden showed how important experience can be in big matches.
He sniped around a ruck on Crewe’s 22 metre line to break through their defence and score a momentous 100th try for his club. Hickman’s conversion restored his side’s eight-point lead as the match entered the final 15 minutes.
Kenilworth kept the momentum up, with some slick handling from the back line releasing Hickman on the left to score his side’s sixth try of the afternoon. His conversion extended his side’s lead to 15 points with just six minutes to play.
The visitors continued to attack in the closing stages with Rhys Jones coming close to adding a seventh, but the winger was just stopped from touching down.
That proved to be the final action of the match, with Kenilworth securing a well-deserved 39-24 victory to close the gap on their relegation rivals to nine points ahead of their next fixture at home to Dudley Kingswinford on March 4.