National Division Three North
HEARTS were broken on Saturday as Kendal conceded a try in the seventh minute of injury time to deny the Black and Ambers a first away win in more than 18 months.
Kendal travelled to the North East for this re-arranged fixture after a mixture of a frozen pitch and heavy rain had led to a waterlogged pitch a fortnight earlier.
The weather again threatened the game but the pitch was declared fit, and while very soft and holding some surface water, it held up well throughout the game.
Injury and unavailability saw Simon Mullholland, Rob Quarry, Peter Redhead and Mark Bowman, come in to the Kendal starting line up.
Billingham started the stronger and adapted better to the conditions, but it was clear that there would be handing errors, which resulted in a string of scrummages in which Kendal had the upper hand.
Slightly against the run of play, Kendal opened the scoring with a long range penalty from in front of the posts by outside half Dan Rayson.
Despite the conditions, Billingham continued to move the ball at every opportunity, but the Kendal defence held strong, and no openings appeared. When Kendal were in the attack Mark Bowman and Richard Harriman frequently broke the Billingham defence, but lacked support when brought down.
After 25 minutes, with Kendal coming more into the game, Rayson added a second long range penalty after Billingham were caught offside to extend the Kendal lead to 6-0.
On the stroke of half time, with Kendal on the attack, Rayson spotted a gap in the Billingham defence and scythed through before putting a long pass out to Dan Lowther who ran the try in. Rayson could not add the conversion, but with no stoppage time added Kendal took an 11-point lead into half time.
The second half was almost one way traffic, with Billingham camped in the Kendal half. Too often when Kendal won the ball it was kicked loosely back for the opposition to mount another attack, but the Kendal defence continued to deal well with the assaults.
After 60 minutes Kendal made their one break into the Billingham half, and Rayson had the opportunity for another long range penalty, but it fell short.
Five minutes later Rob Quarry was yellow-carded for a technical offence, and on 70 minutes later Billingham finally found a way through the Kendal defence. Number eight Mike Evans went over the line with the try, with Peter Evans adding the extras to make it 11-7.
Billingham continued to push for a further score, and their decision to spurn earlier kicks at goal instead of looking for a try began to look like it would backfire.
Kendal held their lead into injury time and the forwards tried to run the clock down, but they were penalised for failing to release the ball. Billingham took the penalty quickly, and having stretched the Kendal defence on the right touchline, the ball was moved to the left where replacement James Watson found a gap to score the match-winning try in the seventh minute of stoppage time. Peter Evans added the conversion, and the referee immediately blew for full time.
It was a disappointing end to a disappointing year, but otherwise the side were much-improved, especially in defence.
Alistair Livesey, Duncan Green, Richard Harryman (c), Rob Quarry, Reece Tomlinson, Peter Redhead, Dan White, Mark Bowman, Simon Davidson, Dan Rayson, Dan Lowther, Jason Poleman, Dini Nayo, Alistair Thompson, Simon Mulholland
Smith, Reay, Hutchinson, Dalton, Burns, Shepherd, Robinson, M Evans, A Evans, J Evans, Shephard, C Hyndman, A Hyndman, Turnbull, P Evans.
Referee : Jamie Leahy