KENDAL RUFC started 2018 with a 24-17 defeat to Rossendale at Mintbridge as the Northern Premier Division returned after the festive break.

Two changes were made to the team who faced Kirkby Lonsdale, with Glenn Chesher coming in for Duncan Green, while Ben Dixon made a first League start at No.8 in place of Chris Downham.

Reece Tomlinson and Joe Robinson who had previously appeared in Black and Amber, started for the opposition.

Rossendale started well, forcing Kendal into a long period in defence. They finally opened the scoring after seven minutes with a penalty try, awarded as Kendal tried to defend a drive from a lineout, to take a 7-0 lead.

Jacob Sutton was yellow carded for his part in the penalty, while Tomlinson was forced off for Rossendale with an injury.

While Rossendale continued to attack, Kendal had no problems holding out until they were back to fifteen men, with a fast defence forcing the visitors into a number of handling errors.

Having spent the first twenty minutes defending in their own half, Kendal broke out and played some good rugby, and against the run of play, drew level after 25 minutes.

Dixon broke away from a good forward drive, and powered through from the twenty-two to score under the posts. Glen Weightman added the conversion to level the score.

Tomlinson returned in place of the other former Kendal player Robinson.

Kendal were unfortunate in the build up to Rossendale’s second try. Nathan Wooff had difficulty dealing with a kick through, but did not appear to knock the ball on. The referee thought otherwise and awarded Rossendale a scrum. A Rossendale player then punished a gap in midfield, in the previously solid defence, to romp through for a try under the post which was converted by outside half Lewis Allen to give the visitors a 14-7 lead.

In injury time, Mike Fearon as forced off with an injury, Chris Park came on at fullback, with Wooff moving out to the wing, and Kris Bratton to the centre.

Kendal started the second half well, and narrowed the score after five minutes. Sutton managed to get a hold of possession, and when Rossendale tried to regain it illegally, they were penalised. Park put over the long range penalty to make it 14-10.

Rossendale then extended their lead after a quarter of an hour. Kendal held out as the Rossendale pack drove for the line, but with the defence committed, there was nothing they could do when the ball was moved wide for centre Jack Ward to go over for a try to make it 19-10.

With five minutes to play, Kendal were penalised in mid-field for a high tackle. The kick was put to touch, and the Rossendale pack drove over for their third try. The conversion was wide of the mark but Rossendale had a 24-10 lead.

Kendal caught Rossendale out, taking a quick re-started kick, which put them on the attack. When the ball came back to Glen Weightman, he rolled a kick into the corner for Wooff to follow and touch down. Park put over an excellent conversion kick from near the touchline, to bring Kendal within a score of a draw.

Rossendale, did not try to run the clock down, and instead went looking for a bonus point fourth try, but Kendal probably had the better chance as a passing move near halfway seemed to be opening up space on the right, but a difficult pass went to ground.

Having survived this scare, when they had the opportunity Rossendale seemed happy to put the ball to touch to seal victory.