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Rugby Union: Kirkby Lonsdale 8-5 Kendal
SKIPPER Matt Hughes touched down as Kirkby Lonsdale produced a strong and disciplined performance to edge a tight derby clash at Underley Park – completing a league double over Kendal in the process.
After a scoreless first-half, Hughes’ unconverted try added to a Tom Pickthall penalty before Kendal’s Dan Lowther crossed the line late on to set-up a tense finale.
In front of a bumper crowd, Kirkby enjoyed a period of possession and applied early pressure but failed to create a clear opening to score as the Kendal defence held firm.
Play then swung to the opposite end as the away side pressed into Kirkby territory with a series of powerful drives by the visiting forwards.
The Black and Ambers were awarded a number of penalties during this phase of play but opted to kick for touch in a bid to engineer try-scoring opportunities.
Kirkby tackled well and demonstrated impressive defensive organisation to keep the Kendal pack at bay and eventually regain possession.
However, the hosts suffered a setback on 25 minutes as prop Tim Groves received a straight yellow card which left Kirkby a man light for the next ten minutes.
Kendal now had a platform in the scrum and looked to make the most of their numerical advantage, although the resilient Kirkby defence snuffed out any danger.
Prior to half-time, hooker Dan Armistead and prop James Law both suffered injuries, with Jonas Thorsen and Sam Chesney-Benson entering the fray.
Neither side registered a point in the first-half, with the powerful forwards presence of Kendal being met by Kirkby, who mixed styles and looked to keep the ball moving through the influential Ben Walker.
Kendal made two changes at the start of the second period with experienced pair Billy Coxon and Garry Holmes replacing Glen Chesher and James Cox.
This move revitalised the Kendal pack as the Mint Bridge outfit flexed their muscle and exerted initial territorial advantage after half-time, although Kirkby’s defence once again resisted.
At the other end, after Hughes punctured the Kendal defence, Kirkby centre Jack Akrigg found touch with a penalty as Simon Dowker claimed Kendal line-out ball.
After pressing for the Kendal line, Kirkby looked to spread play out to Australian winger Sam Latu only for Coxon to receive a yellow card after being penalised for a deliberate knock on.
With 65 minutes on the clock the deadlock was broken as Pickthall successfully kicked the resulting penalty to establish a narrow lead.
Chesher replaced Holmes to cover Coxon’s absence as Jordan Johnson also took the field in place of Andrew Boardley on the left wing.
Tom Slater also came off the bench for Kirkby, with the full-back launching an attack down the centre of the pitch only to lose his footing with a man to beat.
Recycled ball from the ruck allowed the excellent Walker to find touch inside the Kendal twenty two and while the visitors cleared, Kirkby were able to run the ball back and initiate an attack.
With Walker in the thick of the action, Pickthall filled the scrum-half position and switched play to the left flank where Hughes powered over to extend Kirkby’s lead.
Pickthall was unable to add a further two points as Coxon returned to the field following his enforced absence together with Holmes as Kendal looked to work their way back into the game.
Following a number of Kendal drives inside the Kirkby twenty two, fly-half Lowther crossed the line for an unconverted try with just three minutes remaining.
From the restart, Kirkby pinned the visitors in their own twenty-two to see out time and record victory, with Kendal leaving Underley Park with their sixth losing bonus point of the season.
Kirkby Lonsdale: James Law, Dan Armistead, Tim Groves, Matt Hughes (c), Simon Dowker, Alan Robinson, Stuart Storey, Craig Galbraith, Ben Walker, Dave Barton, Sam Latu, Jack Akrigg, Tom Pickthall, Matt Belshaw, Martyn Knapton. Replacements: Jonas Thorsen, Sam Chesney-Benson, Tom Slater, Josh Maddocks
Kendal: Glen Chesher, Duncan Green, Richard Harryman, Liam Hayton, Reece Tomlinson, James Cox, Matty Houghton, James Thompson, James Gough (c), Dan Lowther, Mark Carruthers, Ian Voortman, Alistair Thompson, Andrew Boardley, Chris Park. Replacements: Jordan Johnson, Billy Coxon, Garry Holmes