THE wait for a victory at the new Mint Bridge goes on for Kendal as they fell to a 23-12 defeat to Billingham.

It was honours even at half time, but a strong defensive showing in the second half gave Billingham the platform to go on and take the win.

Kendal were force into a number of late changes with Matt Houghton (knee) and Kris Bratton (hamstring) picking up injuries in Thursday training, while Dom Musetti was also forced to drop out. The good news was Mike Fearon was back, and replaced Bratton, with Brett Ashley moving to the wing.

After a slow start in the league, Billingham had won five of their last six games.

Kendal started well and looked as if they could open the scoring when Dini Noyo chased a Glen Weightman kick to the corner, only for the referee to call play back for offside.

The opening score came from a Kendal lineout where Billingham stole the ball. It was moved into midfield and Billingham prop Adam Sunley went on a powerful run to the line, brushing off would be tacklers. With the successful conversion, Billingham led 7-0.

The lead only lasted four minutes before Kendal opened their own scoring. There was a magnificent run down the left by Noyo, breaking a number of tackles on his way to the line. He was finally stopped just short. When the ball quickly came back, Weightman went for a gap and while he was stopped, Duncan Green picked up to go over from short range. Chris Park converted to level the score.

Five minutes later Kendal had the lead. Chris Downham made a powerful long break down the right, Ashley and Will Montgomery were in support, and Downham used them to hold the defenders off as he made more ground. When stopped the ball was quickly moved across field by Weightman and Danny Barker for Noyo to squeeze in at the corner and make it 12-7.

Kendal were forced into a long period of defence in their own twenty two and lost Downham to a yellow card for a high tackle. After being awarded a number of penalties, Billingham finally forced their way over for an unconverted try in the left hand corner to level the scores by half time.

Billingham tightened up their defence after the break, and after 20 minutes they were attacking. When Weightman appeared to knock on when going for an interception, the referee felt it was a deliberate knock on and awarded a penalty and yellow carded Weightman.

Billingham scrum half Dan Finney broke the deadlock with the resultant penalty to make it 15-12.

Another problem at a Kendal lineout led to the third Billingham try. Billingham stole the ball and moved it into midfield, then moved it back to the left for an unconverted try in the corner.

The time running out, Billingham edged a further three points ahead to 23-12 with a penalty.

Kendal made two changes with Robbie Collinson coming on for Garry Holmes, while Ben Dixon replaced Montgomery.

Kendal finished with a flourish, playing by far their best rugby of the half and pounded the Billingham line. But despite a number of good runs, the Billingham defence continued to hold firm. Finally Danny Barker chipped the ball into the corner, but the ball bounced away from Brett Ashley. to run out of play and end the game.