'Relish the challenge': Director of Rugby Steve Whitehead urges Kendal to thrive in big-game setting against Birkenhead Park

The Westmorland Gazette: 'Relish the challenge': Director of Rugby Steve Whitehead urges Kendal to thrive in big-game setting against Birkenhead Park 'Relish the challenge': Director of Rugby Steve Whitehead urges Kendal to thrive in big-game setting against Birkenhead Park

WITH the memory of beating high-flying Widnes still burning brightly, Director of Rugby Steve Whitehead hopes the element of surprise could contribute to Kendal toppling another leading light.

The Black and Ambers host second-place Birkenhead Park this weekend – a team which dished out a 72-14 hammering to the Mint Bridge side in September.

Without a number of key players that day due to Richard Harryman’s wedding, Whitehead is challenging a more re-enforced Kendal to replicate recent home results.

“All sides in this league have now had a chance to look at each other’s styles and what strengths and weaknesses there may be,” he said.

“It’s a little bit different with Birkenhead Park as last time we played we had a very inexperienced side out which did well considering.

“We lost heavily but at least it gave me the opportunity to look at their strengths and weaknesses – it will be the first time these teams have met in earnest.

“Any side in this league is capable of punishing complacency but you have to apply yourself against the better sides as errors will be punished very quickly.

“But playing against the top sides in the division is certainly something to relish – the challenge of coming up against the big boys as it were makes it more exciting.”

Kendal’s game at Altrincham Kersal on Saturday was abandoned, meaning Whitehead and Co. slipped a place to sixth in League One North West, albeit with a game in hand.

With the Birkenhead Park clash marking a three-week winter break, the former openside flanker is keen for his charges to continue developing their new system of play.

“That was a disappointing aspect of Saturday, we’ve had an improvement in style and wanted to keep that momentum going and were starting to get on top in the game,” he added.

“It’s hard when you prepare yourself for a game and the adrenalin is there and then it all falls flat.

“It was important though to go through the correct channels to protect the young lad who thankfully is fine.

“One positive was Jamie Cox playing at seven – his first start in his own position – and he got through a tremendous amount of work in the time played.

“We’re getting there as a side and it’s encouraging working with a young squad, they’re keen to impress and you know you are working with your future.”

Kendal squad to face Birkenhead Park: Glen Chesher, Billy Coxon, Richard Harryman, Liam Hayton, Reece Tomlinson, Garry Holmes, Jamie Cox, James Thompson, James Gough (c), Dan Lowther, Andrew Boardley, Ian Voortman, Alistair Thompson, Mark Carruthers, Chris Park. Replacements: Matty Houghton, Ben Leacock, Robbie Collinson

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