5:15pm Monday 24th February 2014
By Ross McLean
Extending their winning streak at Underley Park, flanker Sam Chesney-Benson scored the decisive try as Kirkby Lonsdale edged a tight contest against Vale of Lune to once again take derby day spoils.
With all points scored in the first-half, Tom Slater and Matt Belshaw also crossed the line for the home side as the division’s leading try-scorer Nick Royle replied for the visitors.
Starting brightly and taking play into the Vale twenty two, Kirkby created a number of chances before Martyn Knapton’s penetrating run laid the foundations for the hosts’ opening try on five minutes.
The ball was recycled along the backs where full-back Slater hit the line at pace and stepped inside his opponent to score by the posts, with Tom Pickthall adding the conversion.
Kirkby continued to apply pressure and when an opposition clearance was charged down, fly-half Dave Barton sent a kick over the Vale defence for right-wing Belshaw to score in the corner.
Despite Pickthall’s conversion sliding wide of the upright, Kirkby established a healthy 12-0 lead although fifth-placed Vale showed character to work their way back into the game.
Jack Turton reduced the arrears with a penalty before adding an impressive conversion after Royle collected a grub kick inside the Kirkby twenty two to score by the right corner flag.
Having started so prominently, Kirkby were forced to defend as Turton kicked Vale into the lead after the hosts were penalised for handling in the ruck.
The home side’s cause was not helped by second row Simon Dowker receiving a yellow card, although Kirkby responded in a manner befitting a side in such good home form.
As a Vale attack broke down inside their opponent’s half, Chesney-Benson persistently hacked the ball along the left touchline and sprinted clear of the visiting defence to restore Kirkby’s lead with a memorable try.
Pickthall’s conversion fell short although Kirkby held a narrow 17-13 advantage at the halfway stage, with Vale perhaps rueing opportunities to kick for goal instead of touch.
While Vale edged territorial advantage and possession in the second period, the Powderhouse Lane outfit were unable to breach a resilient Kirkby defence.
Stuart Storey was prominent in closing down Vale’s half-back division as the away side were denied the opportunity to generate any real momentum with their forwards largely contained by the Kirkby pack.
At the other end, the bounce of Slater’s kick through the Vale defence narrowly evaded Belshaw before the influential Storey received a yellow card for a ruck offence.
Despite a numerical disadvantage, the Kirkby defence managed to contain one of the leading attacking divisions in the league before a moment of controversy in the latter stages.
As Vale attacked, former England Sevens international Royle outpaced the Kirkby defence to meet a kick through the Kirkby defence only for the referee to determine downward pressure was made over the dead ball line.
Skipper Matt Hughes became the third Kirkby player of the afternoon to be shown a yellow card, although the hosts held on to record their seventh consecutive home win.
Kirkby Lonsdale: Jonas Thorsen, Alan Robinson, Tim Groves, Matt Hughes (c), Simon Dowker, Sam Chesney-Benson, Stuart Storey, Craig Galbraith, Ben Walker, Dave Barton, Martyn Knapton, Tom Pickthall, Sam Latu, Matt Belshaw, Tom Slater. Replacements: Jack Benson, John Whitaker, Josh Maddocks
Vale of Lune: James Hesketh, Jack Ferguson, Alex Cowey, Adam Foxcroft, Paul McLaren-Dorrington, Gareth Tudor, Danny Lin, Ben Charnley, Ollie Dobson, Jack Turton, Rob Ward, Jonty Higgin, Olly Carter, Adam Macluskie, Nick Royle. Replacements: Scott Foy, Ross Pillow, Darren Wilson
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