CONDITIONS were near perfect for open rugby as Kendal entertained Wirral at Mint Bridge – and battled their way to a deserved win.

Kendal kicked off with a slight chill wind at their backs and were immediately on the attack, dominating territory and possession as Nick Carlton had an early run down the right but a penalty for holding on allowed Wirral to clear.

The early exchanges were all Kendal and another strong run by Zane Butler and then Myles Harrop broke through the middle, but with the last man to beat he offloaded to Chris Downham who was well tackled.

Influential Wirral number 10 James Annets had to leave the field with what looked like a bad leg injury as Kendal continued to hold sway, and on 17 minutes it looked like the breakthrough had come as Zane Butler came at a great angle onto a short pop-up pass to cross near the posts. However, the pass was adjudged to be forward.

After defending well for 20 minutes, Wirral finally got into the Kendal half with a mazy run from the scrum half. They created an overlap on the right but the final pass was wayward and knocked on, and Kendal took over again.

On the half hour Nick Carlton was again put in space down the right and chipped ahead, but his run was cleverly baulked and he was beaten to the touchdown.

On 37 minutes an attack down the left saw Miles Harrop with a glimpse of a chance, but an optimistic pass went astray, and it was not until the stroke of half time that Kendal finally took the lead when Chris Park struck a sweet penalty from outside the 22 on the left.

Wirral’s response was immediate and they camped on the Kendal line until Chris Downham turned the ball over and it was fed back to Nathan McCloy to kick for touch to end the half – and 3-0 was poor reward for the home side’s efforts.

The second half was a totally different affair as Wirral set of at a high tempo, running hard and looking to offload in the tackle, and one attack deep in the home 22 was only halted as a Myles Harrop tackle forced a knock on and the ball was cleared from the resulting scrum.

Wirral were coming at the home side in waves but the Kendal defence was well organised and another turnover allowed McCloy to clear to halfway.

After 50 minutes Garry Holmes had done his shift and was replaced by Robbie Collinson, and soon after Kendal got their one chance when McCloy hit a 50-metre spiralling kick into touch 10 metres from the Wirral line.

Wirral lost the line out and Kendal set up a series of driving mauls which sucked in the defence to allow Dini Noyo to hit McCloy with the perfect pass which he moved on to Glen Weightman to fling a brilliant ball in front of Myles Harrop to score wide out.Chris Park’s conversion fell just short but |Kendal now had a little breathing space with the score at 8-0

Matthew Charters and Mathew Kaye replaced Stephen Nelson and Chris Park who, along with Myles Harrop as Wirral raised their intensity and, after 62 minutes, earned a penalty on the home 22. The kick was successful and the breathing space had gone.

After 70 minutes the Wirral fullback broke the defensive line to win a penalty close to the Kendal line, with Wirral electing for a scrum. They had had the upper hand all day and were looking for a push over or penalty try as three resets followed and the tension rose. But at the fourth attempt Wirral were penalised for boring in and the ball was cleared.

The game had become a case of Kendal booting the ball downfield and chasing it to hold up Wirral's efforts to run it back, and with full time close Downham forced a penalty and McCloy cleared, but with 43 minutes on the clock back came the visitors – only to lose the ball forward and allow the referee to whistle full time.

The cheers or sighs of relief could probably be heard at the Town Hall after a great defensive effort.

There were no new injury worries after the game,and with players coming back from injury and other commitments there is room for optimism.

Final Score: Kendal 8 Wirral 3