A LAST minute penalty consigned Kendal to a narrow defeat at Wilmslow which confirmed their relegation from the North Premier Division.

But while skill levels were not the best, it was an entertaining game between two teams happy to play rugby, rather than get involved in an attritional battle for the ball.

Chris Wakeford came in for his debut on the right wing, with Dan Wilson moved to the bench. Matthew Charters had failed to recover from an injury picked up last weekend, so Steven Nelson came into the second row, with Billy Coxon replacing him on the bench.

Both teams started at pace, and the first score came within seven minutes of the game.

Kendal was penalised when the referee adjudged Mark Irving’s knock-on to end a Wilmslow attack was deliberate.

The kick went to touch, but then a Wilmslow pass went astray, and Chris Evans was able to gather and set up the ball for Dini Noyo, who made a good run, then offloaded to Chris Downham, and when he was stopped Alistair Thompson was on hand to score. Glen Weightman added the conversion, making it 0-7.

The second try was even better. With the referee signally a penalty advantage, Weightman risked setting off an attack. Downham made a good break down the right, and when he was stopped he offloaded to Danny Barker, and while he was also stopped near the line, he got the ball away to Evans, who had done well to be in support, and he went through for the try.

Jack Lashley unexpectedly found himself with the ball and space and made a good run. When he was stopped the forwards kept the ball tight and attempted to drive for the line, and when this was stopped illegally, Wilmslow hooker A Donaldson, was yellow carded. Kendal went for the scrum forcing Wilmslow to sacrifice a second row man, to allow a replacement prop on.

The third try came from Downham, who despite several times seeming to be held, had the strength to spin out of the attempted tackles to get across for the try.

When the Wilmslow kept the replacement prop on, as he was having a big impact and making a big difference in keeping them in the game.

The Wilmslow No.6 made a long run and looked certain to score, only for Noyo to get back and stop him on the line. He was quickly backed up, and looked to have successfully stolen the Wilmslow ball, but the referee decided illegally and sent him to the side lines for ten minutes.

Shortly afterwards, following Wilmslow pressure on the Kendal line, they went over for their opening try.

At half-time Billy Coxon came on for Downham following a head injury.

The opening score was going to be crucial, and it went to Wilmslow with a penalty after Kendal were caught offside after two minutes, adding the score to 10-17.

The Wilmslow scrum drove Kendal back off their own ball, and when the scrum disintegrated Jack Lashley gather the loose ball, but illegally, and gave the referee a simple decision of another yellow card.

Wilmslow then set up a good position, and the No.8 A. Taylor picked up for the try to bring his team within a score of the lead at 15-20.

Despite being a man down, and momentum seeming to be with the opposition it was Kendal who upped their game. Barker made an excellent break through the centre. Yet again Evans had got himself in position to take the pass and score his second try. Another converted try happened soon enough by Alistair Thompson with the help of Kirk Chettleburgh to make it 15-34.

The turning point of the game came shortly afterwards. Kendal were struggling to hold on to their own ball, while Wilmslow were looking after it very well, and putting Kendal under pressure after having scored two tries in quick succession. Coxon was the third player to get a yellow card for trying to steal the ball illegally.

Despite being a man down Kendal continued to holdout and when the ball went loose and Lashley was through to gather it looked as if Kendal could end the game, but the referee decided he had done so illegally and gave Wilmslow a penalty. This time responsibility was handed to outside half Connor McMurdock, who held his nerve to put the kick over to give his team a win, 35-34.

The disappointment at the late drama of Kendal being relegated was diluted slightly with the news that Lymm had won at Sandal. Even if Kendal had held on for maximum points they wouldn’t have been safe.

Next weekend Kendal will just be playing for pride against Ilkley at Mintbridge. Kick-off at 3pm. Where and against whom the team will be playing next season, is unclear.