Match report by Mark Hodgkiss

The last League game of the season, and with still no news of the end-of-season cup competition, it could be the end of Kendal First XV’s season, and if touchline rumours were true, the last game for some of the senior players.

Visitors Sandbach sat in fourth place and whilst it was unlikely they could catch third place Rossendale, Macclesfield in fifth could still could overtake them. They had been Kendal’s first opponents of the season and had won well, and whilst their recent results were slightly erratic, they included a win against Blackburn.

The Westmorland Gazette: Alex Ryder breaking through from the line out for a try.Alex Ryder breaking through from the line out for a try. (Image: Craig Ross)

Kendal field a team close to the one which played last weekend at Rossendale, with Glen Weightman returning and Aaron Stephens dropping to the bench, whilst Joe Fiddler came in for Dan Shorrock, who had been injured at Rossendale. Greg Wrathall returned on the bench.

Having soaked up some early attacks from Sandbach, it was Kendal who took the lead after five minutes. Robbie Collinson broke away and made a lot of ground, the move was taken on by Joe Allday, and when he was stopped, Tommy Calvert was in support to go over for the opening try. 5v0

It was soon to become an even better start. Steven Nelson broke through, and passed to George Philipson who weaved through the Sandbach defence for a try, with Tommy Calvert adding the conversion 12v0.

Sandbach hit back quickly, there was a break down the left, before the ball was moved to the right. Play went left again, with a long pass, which risked interception, but it found it’s target for a try¸ with the conversion from near the touchline also put over. 12v7.

Ten minutes later a Sandbach penalty brought the scores closer. 12v10.

Sandbach took the lead after twenty five minutes, in slightly strange circumstances. I missed it apart from the outcome, as Sandbach’s mascot, (a Matt Lucas impersonator), was standing on the pitch blocking the view, but I was told at half time that Kendal had held a Sandbach attack up over the line to win a goal line drop out, then an attempt to put the kick to George Philipson on the right wing backfired, when it instead went to a Sandbach player, who accepted the gift for the try which was converted 12v17.

The next score was also a gift from Kendal, as it was clear a box kick was coming, and it was charged down for a simple try. 12v22.

Kendal made a change with Greg Wrathall coming on for Tadhg Butler.

Kendal came back in to the game and with Sandbach conceding a string of penalties a forward replacement was given a slightly early half time, with a yellow card.

Tommy Calvert put the penalty over with the last action of the half, to keep Kendal in the game at half time at 15v22.

Kendal again started the better, and won an early penalty. This was put to touch and the lineout won. The pack drove for the line, and re-set a number of times, with Joe Anderson and Reece Tomlinson, setting them on their way again, and for once it was not Steven Nelson with ball in hand when the try was score, but Robbie Collinson. Tommy Calvert added the conversion to tie the scores. 22v22

After quarter of an hour Aaron Stephens came on for Greg Weightman.

Shortly afterwards Kendal had the lead. Having been unsuccessful with an earlier kick at goal, Tommy Calvert put a penalty over. 25v22.

Glen Chesher who had earlier received treatment was replaced by Barney Coxon.

Two penalties set up a fourth try for Sandbach. For the first Greg Wrathall seemed to have got on the ball legally, but the referee saw it otherwise. From a lineout the try came from short range and was converted 25v29.

The lead was however short lived. Danny Barker seemed to deflect a Sandbach pass, and the ball came to Alex Ryder, who with the defence wrong footed romped away to score. He could have made the kick easier for Tommy Calvert, but it did not matter with Calvert adding the extra points. 32v29.

Glen Weightman returned going scrum half in place of Joe Allday

The Kendal defence had done well for most of the afternoon, against a team keen to move the ball at pace, with Leo Mercer and Danny Barker making a number of key tackles, as did Aaron Stephens when he came on, but finally Sandbach found a few gaps and went though for a further try to re-take the lead, but the conversion was not successful, so any score would give Kendal victory 32v34

Tadhg Butler returned in place of Joe Anderson.

Kendal had been on the wrong end of a number of decisions at the breakdown, and with five minutes to play, Danny Barker’s frustration boiled over, and when penalised spoke out, which saw the penalty advanced, and when he continued to remonstrate the inevitable yellow card followed, and Kendal were down to fourteen for the rest of the game.

Sandbach ended the game with a number of scrums on the Kendal line. Several times Kendal were penalised, but no penalty try, which would have taken away the losing bonus point came, and eventually Sandbach, who had nothing to gain from an extra score, and a game to lose if Kendal could counterattack from a mistake, just put a penalty to touch to end the game.

If this was the last game of the season (hopefully not), despite the loss, it was a good way to end. After some poor displays earlier in the season there have been moments of promise even in defeat against better teams in recent games, and but for minor errors and penalties, this could have been a remarkable victory against one of those at the very top of the table.