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Rugby Union: Wilmslow 26-20 Kendal
OUTSIDE centre Oli McCall crossed the line twice in the second half to lay the foundations for Wilmslow's success before a late Kendal surge ensured a bonus point.
Despite Liam Nicholson scoring the opening try for the Black and Ambers, wingers Lawrence James and Sam Cutts touched down as the home side established a narrow interval lead.
McCall’s two tries extended the Wilmslow advantage early in the second period before Garry Holmes and Dan Lowther made a late appearance on the scoresheet to reduce the Kendal arrears.
With Mark Carruthers, Richard Harryman, Liam Hayton and Reece Tomlinson all unavailable, Kendal were forced into a number of changes, while Glen Chesher and Matty Houghton played despite injuries.
Leo Mercer returned to the backs division as Billy Coxon, Rob Wightman and Liam Nicholson came into the pack, with James Thompson moving to second row.
The away side started positively and employed a high-tempo game in the opening stages, taking the lead after only four minutes through a Chris Park penalty.
Wilmslow were a man light after ten minutes as second row Dan Wright received a yellow card although Kendal were unable to maximise their numerical advantage.
The Black and Ambers did extend their lead after 25 minutes, the forwards taking lineout ball following Lowther’s kicked penalty to the corner, with Nicholson emerging for the try as Park converted.
Wilmslow were back in the game moments later, James evading a number of tackles with a powerful run to score, although the conversion from in front of the posts was missed.
Shortly before the half-time whistle, the hosts were ahead as a break from fly-half Bob MacCallum led to Cutts crossing the line, with MacCallum’s conversion making the score 12-10.
Chris Evans replaced Wightman in the Kendal second row at the break and within minutes of the restart the home side seized control of proceedings.
Breaks from Cutts and James engineered space for McCall who scored Wilmslow’s third try of the game, with MacCallum adding a further two points.
Soon after, following a slip from Park, the ball was hacked through for McCall to touch down just ahead of the dead ball line after 50 minutes, with MacCallum again converting.
With quarter of an hour remaining, Ben Leacock replaced Evans while ten minutes later Robbie Collinson came on for Chesher, with the Kendal scrum stabilised as Duncan Green moved to prop.
With the Kendal forwards exerting some control, Holmes went over for his 23rd try of the campaign with only three minutes remaining although Wilmslow still held a healthy 26-15 lead.
The Black and Ambers continued to press, with Wilmslow’s Wright dismissed after receiving his second yellow card of the game following a deliberate knock on.
With seconds left on the clock, recycled ball from a Lowther break resulted in the fly-half forcing his way over the line as Kendal secured their ninth losing bonus point of the season.
The Mint Bridge outfit are now guaranteed at least a fourth-place finish in North One West with this weekend’s clash against Wirral signalling their final fixture of the campaign.
Wilmslow: Simeon Meek, Max Harvey, Jack Walmsley, Adam Hewitt, Dan Wright, Rick Jones, Mike Black (c), Alex Taylor, Ollie Wilkinson, Bob MacCallum, Toby Rowe, Oli McCall, Sam Cutts, Lawrence James, Ben Day. Replacements: Adam Taher, Craig Cooper, Josh Whiteley
Kendal: Billy Coxon, Duncan Green, Richard Harryman, James Thompson, Rob Wightman, Liam Nicholson, Matty Houghton, Garry Holmes, James Gough (c), Dan Lowther, Jordan Johnson, Ian Voortman, Alistair Thompson, Leo Mercer, Chris Park. Replacements: Chris Evans, Ben Leacock, Robbie Collinson
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