A STOPPAGE-TIME try ended Kenilworth’s unbeaten record in the league as Earlsdon secured a dramatic 19-18 victory, writes Sophie Freestone.
The result sees Kenilworth slip to third in Midlands Two West (South) behind table-toppers Kidderminster and second-placed Earlsdon.
It was the hosts who started stronger with a try inside the opening ten minutes, breaking through the Kenilworth defence to touch down by the posts.
The conversion gave Earlsdon an early seven-point lead.
Having gone ahead in the opening stages, Earlsdon then found themselves down to 14 men when their blindside flanker was sent to the sin-bin for a shoulder barge.
Kenilworth’s Josh Emery duly stepped up to take the penalty and added the three points.
They were to be Kenilworth’s only points during the sin-bin period, however, with Earlsdon going on to extend their lead once restored to a full complement.
A well-worked move, following a lineout on the right, found space out wide on the left and the hosts went over in the corner to take the score to 12-3.
As the first half drew to a close Kenilworth eventually got into their stride with fly half Emery adding another three points from the tee before Charlie Stevens crossed for his side’s first try of the match.
A penalty kick to the corner gave the visitors a 5m lineout on the left and the ball was spread wide before returning to the left with Stevens diving over in the left-hand corner on the stroke of half-time.
That try closed the gap to just a single point as Earlsdon went into the break with the narrowest of leads at 12-11.
With the close of the first half seeing Kenilworth cross the whitewash, the start of the second half also saw the visitors touch down.
Some great hands released Mikkel Andresen on the left and the back row put his foot on the gas to break through the Earlsdon defence and score his side’s second try.
Emery’s conversion attempt hit the crossbar on its way over to add the extras and give the visitors an 18-12 lead with 42 minutes played.
It was a much-improved second half display from Kenilworth with some excellent defence keeping Earlsdon at bay and some great work in attack really testing the hosts’ defensive line.
However, the closing minutes proved costly for Kenilworth with multiple penalties pinning them deep into their own half.
An excellent try-saving tackle in the corner from winger Ollie Burman looked to have secured victory for Kenilworth but penalties at the subsequent scrum gave Earlsdon another opportunity to cross and that is exactly what they did.
A rolling maul took the hosts over the line and the subsequent conversion secured victory, subjecting Kenilworth to the cruellest of defeats. Kenilworth play host to Evesham on Saturday.