THIS was a crucial ‘must-win’ game in Kendal’s bid to pull away from the foot of the North Premier table and it was mission accomplished – just.

It came down to the last play of the game before the hosts were assured of the win and a try bonus point, while also preventing Wilmslow picking up a losing bonus .

Wilmslow made the better start in heavy rain at Mint Bridge but Kendal also had their chances, with both teams showing touches of skill but regular mistakes.

Wilmslow got the opening score from an attacking scrum on the right. When the ball was moved into midfield a lae gap appeared in the Kendal defence to be exploited by full back Ben Day, who powered through for the try converted by Connor McMurdock for 0-7.

Ten minutes later Kendal were back in the game as Nathan McCloy launched a long crossfield kick which Nick Carlton just failed to gather.

But the referee came back for a penalty for an earlier infringement and Kendal took a scrum, from which Chris Downham picked up and moved the ball on to John Dervey and then Dini Noyo. When he was stopped, Nick Carlton was on hand to score in the corner.

After showing his attacking skills, Noyo then demonstrated his defensive ones as he scooped the ball up one-handed after a A Kendal kick was charged down.

This seemed to fire Kendal up, and they took the lead at 8-7 through a McCloy penalty after Wilmslow had been penalised for failing to release, extending it almost immediately when another penalty was taken quickly by Matthew Kaye to set up a forward drive from which Jack Lashley barged his way over. McCloy added the conversion to make it 15-7.

Wilmslow managed to gather their own re-start and put Kendal under pressure, leading to a penalty awarded for a high tackle. The kick was scored to make it 15=10 at half time.

Kendal started the second half well as Danny Barker made a powerful break, but when he was caught there was no-one in support to take a pass.

Then a kick though by McCloy bounced favourably for Carlton to gather, and with a wall of defence in front of him, chip ahead and chase his own kick to touch down for his second try.

Kendal were having more of the ball but rarely made ground with the Wilmslow defence coming up quickly to cut off the passes. But when the visitors had the ball the Kendal defence – new head coach Chris Downham to the fore – were more than a match.

A big concern was the lineout, where Wilmslow were close to perfect but Kendal were rarely winning ball. But as the game progressed. the Kendal eight were starting to win the scrums and even managed to drive Wilmslow off their own put in, with Downham picking up to make a run.

There was a serious injury to a Wilmslow player in the build-up, and though he was able to walk off the field the stoppage seemed to affect the Kendal momentum.

With ten minutes to play Wilmslow added a try to narrow the gap to 20-15 and it took another bit of power from Downham in stoppage time to ensure Kendal earned only their second bonus point of the season.

From a scrum near the Wilmslow line, he picked up and brushed off several tackles as he went for the line before seeming to lose the ball – but the referee was on the spot and when Nick Carlton gathered to touch down he awarded the try after spotting the ball being ripped from Downham’s hands.

Final Score: Kendal 25 Wilmslow 15