FOLLOWING the New Year break, Kendal Rugby have secured a big win against Altrincham Kersal.

The dominant performance saw the Cumbrian side break through their opponents’ defences time and time again, whilst effectively defending their own line consistently.

The club returned for a first XV game at Mint Bridge, with two more due to follow over the next fortnight.

There was also a welcome return for a number of players who had been out before Christmas, with Kris Bratton, Ben Dixon and Danny Barker starting and prop Hugh Davies on the bench.

The only change from the pack that started at Vale of Lune before Christmas saw Greg Wrathall drop out, and Steven Nelson return from the centre to play No.8.

Altrincham Kersal had the better of opening play and took the lead after twelve minutes.

Kendal was penalised for illegally stopping a lineout drive. The kick was put to touch and Altrincham drove over for a try converted by their outside half giving them a seven-point lead.

Altrincham continued to have the better of play, putting kicks into the Kendal twenty-two.

Steven Nelson and Matt Houghton were both having excellent games in defence, and at times appeared to be competing for who could make the most, and the biggest tackles. Both were also prominent in attack, but the Altrincham defence was quick to cut them off.

Twenty-five minutes into the match, with possibly only their first visit to the Altrincham twenty-two, Kendal pulled five points back. Ben Dixon made a break down the left wing, rather than go for the line himself, he passed inside to Lewis Kincart, who with Glen Weightman outside him, instead went for the line.

Whilst he was stopped just short, Danny Barker was in support to take the pass and go over for the try making it five points to seven.

Shortly after Kendal were pressing in the Altrincham twenty-two for a second try, when the ball was intercepted and the Altrincham player seemed to have a clear run, but Ben Dixon gave chase, and the player was forced to kick through for another player, but the kick ran safely dead.

After twenty-five minutes Reece Tomlinson who had taken a few knocks was forced off, with Alex Ryder replacing him, but Tomlinson was back after five minutes.

Kendal had another chance. From a lineout drive, Dan Reid broke away and made it to the line but was held up short. The ball was moved wide but the final pass to Kris Bratton went forward.

Lewis Kincart made a break, and then passed to Kris Bratton who broke through before passing to Danny Barker, but the pass went astray, and the half ended 5v7.

The reason Kendal had struggled to get kicks away and Altrincham had kicked so often, became clear after half time, with a strong breeze now in Kendal’s favour.

The game changed after six minutes of the half.

As Kendal attacked an Altrincham second row punched a Kendal pass out of the air to end a move, and his involvement for ten minutes, as he received a yellow card.

The penalty was put to touch, and the throw gathered by Reece Tomlinson. The pack drove to the line, taking full advantage of the man advantage, and it was Tomlinson who came up with the ball. Chris Park added the conversion to give Kendal the lead by 12 against 7.

Three minutes later Kendal repeated the move after Altrincham were penalised again. This time it was Liam Hayton who took the throw, but otherwise it was the same, with an unstoppable drive to the line, and again Tomlinson was the last up with the ball and Chris Park added the conversion. 19v7.

After twenty minutes Hugh Davies came on, in place of Dan Reid who had had another good game.

There was another chance for Kendal as Lewis Kincart broke through and kicked for the line. Ben Dixon gave chase, but the referee decided an Altrincham hand had just beaten his to the ball.

Kendal made more changes with Joe Fiddler coming on for Dan Shorrock and Alex Ryder for Reece Tomlinson.

Glen Weightman put a kick from his own half into the Altrincham twenty-two, to give Kendal an attacking lineout, but the ball was lost.

Finally on the half hour the important bonus point try arrived. Lewis Kincart took a penalty quickly and released Danny Barker, who did all the hard work, before releasing Joe Fiddler for a clear run to the line. Again, Chris Park added the conversion.

Kendal sat on 26 points against 7.

Kris Bratton made at break down the right wing, then kicked ahead and chased his own kick, only to knock on under pressure from Altrincham players, as he tried to ground the ball.

The final move of the game, saw a popular fifth try. Despite another barnstorming performance in attack and defence, Steven Nelson somehow found energy to power through from outside the twenty-two to the line.

No one laid a hand on him, but even if they had it was doubtful, they would have stopped him. Chris Park added the difficult conversion making it 33 to 7.

A big win against a team who had previously only lost by more than seven points once, and a number of other opportunities which could have given an even bigger win, were missed.

One of the key positives was in the past opportunities have been missed by players failing to get in position to support runners, but both Danny Barker and Joe Fiddler’s tries came from them being there when the ball carrier had committed the defence but was unable to get over.

Another big game against Penrith at Mint Bridge next weekend.