Kenilworth 14 Stratford 18
STRATFORD eased their Midlands One West relegation fears with another valuable win at fellow strugglers Kenilworth on Saturday.
But Stratford had to show considerable strength of character to come from behind and overturn a 14 point deficit and then hang on to the lead.
On another crisp, still day, ideal for running rugby, matters initially looked bleak as Kenilworth were quickly into their stride.
Kenilworth’s kick off was returned by Stratford, for the home team to run from deep and slice through weak tackling to score a converted try within two minutes.
A Stratford penalty went wide and a chip through from centre Rich Pepperell went into touch just short of the line.
The Black and Whites were getting plenty of possession, lock Tom Mylott picking off three home line out throws and scrum half Drew Pritchard catching his opposite number three times at the base of the scrum, but all their efforts came to nothing, with three tap penalties being repulsed.
Several kicks failed to find touch and Kenilworth returned to the attack but flanker Marco Mladenovich making a try saving tackle.
After 25 minutes a home penalty was kicked to the corner and, although the initial attack was repelled, a converted try then doubled the lead.
Full back Jo Cook ran from deep to feed Mladenovich whose potentially scoring run was stopped by means of dubious legality.
Fly-half and captain Simon Brain was obstructed after a grubber kick and the penalty was launched to the corner, but then lost.
However, the relieving kick was fielded by Jo Cook who fed Pepperell and another penalty was gained which Brain slotted over to open the visitors account.
Stratford were visibly growing in confidence with the restart taken by Jo Cook who ran back before feeding winger Matt Allen who was forced into touch just short of the line.
Stratford, trailing 14-3 at the interval, enjoyed a good spell of pressure early in the second half, pressurising the opposition line and were unlucky not to score after four drives by all the pack were deemed to be held up.
Drew and brother Dave Pritchard, at No 8, were prominent in moves from three five metre scrums and in turn centre Elliot Smith and wing Dan Whitby were held just short of the line.
Kenilworth received a yellow card. The resulting penalty was kicked to the corner and after a series of mauls fed for Pepperell to crash over, the conversion attempt rebounding from the post.
Pressure again mounted against the Kenilworth line and the ball was spread along the back line for winger Dan Whitby to score in the corner. The conversion fell just short anmd the visitors tantalisingly trailed 14-13.
Stratford maintained the pressure with a touch down by prop Simon Baldwyn being disallowed.
But the visitors were not to be denied and five minutes from time, Whitby dashed over following a blind side move from a five metre scrum.
Kenilworth attacked desperately in the closing stages but were repulsed by sound tackling.
It was a very satisfying win, brought about by a fine team effort. More of the same will be needed when they entertain high-flying Old Halesonians this Saturday, kick off 2.15pm.
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