Kendal chief Steve Whitehead urges troops to stay cool ahead of derby showdown with Kirkby Lonsdale (From The Westmorland Gazette)
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Kendal chief Steve Whitehead urges troops to stay cool ahead of derby showdown with Kirkby Lonsdale
With Kendal becoming well-versed in tasting derby success, director of rugby Steve Whitehead is urging his side to retain a cool exterior ahead of Saturday’s clash with Kirkby Lonsdale.
After seeing off Carlisle at the beginning of the month, the black and ambers recorded a second successive away day victory against Vale of Lune to go fourth in the league table.
And while acknowledging the fixture with the Rams is the latest in a sequence of important games, Whitehead is adamant his side need to ignore any furore surrounding the clash.
“Saturday is a big game but we won’t over emphasise the emotion of a derby as that would take away from our focus and act as a distraction,” he said.
“That emotion is more for those not playing the match and from our point of view we need to stay focused on the job in hand.
“It is important we prepare correctly and execute a game-plan to nullify the skills that Kirkby will bring and look to impose on the game.
“It will be a phenomenal occasion but our role is to concentrate on the game and not get dragged into anything else.”
Kendal’s victory at the weekend over Vale of Lune was their third on the spin, building on a record of only one defeat in five League North One West outings.
Former open-side flanker Whitehead believes his charges are now in prime form and realising the potential which the 43-year-old has always known his squad possess.
“The win over Vale was a bit of a coming of age for the side and they are starting to believe in themselves and control games much better,” he added.
“We completely dominated the first-half and smothered everything they had in their backline and when they played from deep we were able to cut their possession down.
“A side like Vale with their quality and experience will always have their say and they did that for a period in the second-half.
“A couple of errors were made but we showed the composure we talked about at the beginning of the season which I was pretty chuffed with.”
Making his Kendal debut on Saturday was 21-year-old James Duerden, who previously had a trial with Worcester Warriors and was the leading try-scorer for Askam RLC over the summer.
Whitehead was pleased with the performance of his new recruit and was also keen to praise other members of the Kendal line-up.
“James acquitted himself well, he is a quality performer with a good work ethic and he will continue to improve over the next few weeks,” he said.
“It was a baptism fire against a talented backline and he visibly grew in confidence as the game wore on – he will have learned a lot.
“Rob Quarry was outstanding also, he is a cracking young man and had a great game in attack and defence, leading the back row very well.
“He and Reece Tomlinson both stood out and together they had one of their better games in a Kendal shirt.”
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