KENDAL RUFC's defence held firm as they recorded a narrow 12-5 win over Sandal at Mintbridge on Saturday.

Five points separated the two teams at the start of the day, with Sandal having a game in hand, so both teams would have been looking for a victory to move them towards a mid-table finish at the end of the season.

After a three week layoff, the team welcomed back Mike Fearon in the centre, with Kris Bratton moving to the wing, and Dini Noyo to scrum half.

Chris Park started with Nathan Wooff moving to the bench, while Matt Charters returned in the back row for Chris Downham, and Robbie Collinson came in at hooker, with Garry Holmes moving to the back row for Ben Dixon, who away is playing rugby in Australia for six months.

Kendal started well and had the lead after just two minutes. Glen Weightman made a break down the left wing, then rolled a long kick into corner. The Kendal pack put pressure on the Sandal lineout, and a relieving kick to touch was partially charged down, and came to Brett Ashley. The ball was moved infield where Weightman spotted a gap and went through to score under the posts, with Chris Park adding the conversion to put the hosts 7-0 ahead.

Kendal had their second try after twenty minutes. The ball was stolen in the Kendal twenty two and Weightman put a long kick into the opposition half. The Sandal fullback tried to run the ball back, but when he put a kick through to chase, Ross Mckay managed to palm it down to Noyo who went in from close to halfway for an unconverted try which was not converted.

While the Sandal backs often looked dangerous with ball in hand, the Kendal defence was equal to everything thrown at it.

There was good break from Jacob Sutton, but Sandal players managed to cut off the opportunity for a pass to Noyo in support.

Sandal finally got a breakthrough close to half time. A long kick upfield was gathered by Brett Ashley, but he found himself isolated and the ball was turned over.

The Kendal defence was slow to get back and Sandal made good ground, and when the ball was moved to the right Sandal prop Tom Baxter went over, despite Brett Ashley’s attempts to stop him.

Kendal dominated the second half, but rarely looked like scoring. Sandal got well on top in the scrums, driving their own put-ins and looking for penalties while disrupting the Kendal put-ins, making pickups difficult for Matt Charters.

Rather than play to the conditions and kick for position as they had in the first half, Kendal often overcomplicated moves, trying to take on a powerful Sandal pack.

With a quarter of the game to play, Kendal first brought on Jack Lashley for Dom Musetti, then Nathan Wooff for Danny Barker.

Jacob Sutton and Glen Weightman broke the Sandal defence, and the forwards battered the try line but could not get over for the score.

With time running out, Sandal had their best spell of the half, forcing Kendal to concede a number of penalties, which saw Jacob Sutton yellow carded when Kendal were defending on their try line as the game entered injury time.

However, after struggling on their own lineout throws for much of the half, Kendal then stole a Sandal lineout on the line, and then the defence held firm to force a Sandal error, which turned over the ball to Kendal allowing Weightman to put the ball to touch to end the game.