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Rugby Union: Kendal 12-29 Wirral
ALI Baker touched down twice in the first half as Wirral secured the bonus-point victory they required to seal the North One West league title and secure promotion.
After Reece Tomlinson crossed the line to give Kendal early impetus, left wing Baker scored two tries as Wirral seized the initiative heading into half time.
James Gough replied for the hosts before James Annetts – who also kicked a late penalty to register nine points with the boot – and skipper Rob Pearl made sure of victory.
Kendal were boosted by the return of Tomlinson and Liam Hayton from the defeat at Wilmslow, although remained without the services of Richard Harryman and Mark Carruthers.
The game was only five minutes old when the Black and Ambers were forced to reorganise after James Thompson hobbled off, replaced by leading try-scorer Garry Holmes.
Shortly afterwards, the home side had the lead as the Kendal forwards drove to the line following a poor kicked clearance, with Tomlinson touching down.
Wirral responded immediately with Danny Harvey defying the attentions of Ian Voortman to run unopposed to the line from his own half, as Annets converted.
Kendal enjoyed a spell of pressure in Wirral territory only for Baker to steal possession following a loose pass to again score from his own half, with Annetts adding a further points.
The Mint Bridge side continued to press the Wirral line with the forwards proving a dominant force but, despite a string of penalties, were unable to breach the visiting defence.
Harvey received a yellow card after taking out Gough as the Kendal captain chipped through the defence, and was soon joined on the touchline by fly-half Sam Broadbent.
Despite this numerical disadvantage, Wirral held out to half-time although there was no respite at the start of the second period as an Alistair Thompson break was halted close to the line.
With tension mounting, Wirral scrum-half Mike Warren become his side’s third player to receive a yellow card, as Kendal continued to impose an attacking stranglehold.
And with 53 minutes on the clock, the Black and Ambers finally broke their opponents' resistance as Gough broke away to score following good work from the forwards, with Chris Park converting.
Despite Wirral employing a tighter game with less emphasis on their free-flowing style, Annetts exploited a gap in the Kendal defence to touch down with 15 minutes remaining.
Only leading by a single score, the pressure was eased as number eight Pearl powered over from close range to post Wirral’s fourth try – signalling the all important bonus point – as Annetts converted.
With the game in the final ten minutes, Annetts kicked a simple penalty to extend the Wirral lead as Kendal ended the stronger but once again failed to land any blows.
Dan Lowther was unable to find Jordan Johnson following a strong break as Glen Chesher was shown a late yellow card after conceding a penalty.
Kendal ultimately had nothing to show for their spirited performance and finish the campaign fourth in North One West while Wirral will start next season a division higher in the rugby pyramid.
Kendal: Glen Chesher, Duncan Green, Billy Coxon, Reece Tomlinson, Liam Hayton, Liam Nicholson, Matty Houghton, James Thompson, James Gough (c), Dan Lowther, Jordan Johnson, Ian Voortman, Alistair Thompson, Brad Jackson, Chris Park. Replacements: Garry Holmes, Robbie Collinson, Matty Kaye
Wirral: Matthew Brown, Jack Yarker, Chris Hughes, Ryan Speed, Colin Dyer, Ross Page, Joe Adnams, Rob Pearl (c), Mike Warren, Sam Broadbent, Ali Baker, Phil Donaldson, Chris Speed, Danny Harvey, James Annetts. Replacements: Dave Doneo, Chris Burrows, Paul Lewis
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