Watched by a large crowd on Saturday, including 170 pre-match diners, Kendal 1st XV moved up one league place to 8th, with a hard earned win against second bottom West Hartlepool. Having raced into a 15v0 lead after just seven minutes, with tries from Glen Weightman and Nick Carlton, with Weightman converting one and adding a penalty, they were then pinned back to 15v12 ten minutes later, and only held a slender 25v19 lead at half-time with Greg Wrathall scoring a try converted by Weightman, who also added a second penalty. West Hartlepool’s points came from three tries, all from powerful lineout drives. By the final whistle Kendal had pulled away to a 35v19 win, despite losing Kris Bratton, who was stretchered off with a knee injury, and seeing three players side-lined with yellow cards. The second-half points came from a second Greg Wrathall try, with Mark Carruthers adding a further penalty and conversion, after captain Glen Weightman picked up an injury, but stayed on the field to complete the game.

After a flying start this was a hard won victory

The only change to last week’s team victorious at Malton & Norton, saw Tom Moulton come in for Jack Lashley, who went off injured last weekend, and wasn’t risked. New Zealander Logan Flett started on the bench.

Kendal made the perfect start. Greg Wrathall won Glen Weightman’s kick off back. When the ball came back Glen Weightman made a break, then with Danny Barker in support, delayed a pass perfectly to give Barker a clear run. When he was stopped he threw a pass which could have gone anywhere, but went to Weightman in support, who gathered well and jinked through the stunned defence for the opening score within a minute of kick off. Weightman’s conversion kick hit the post. 5v0

The lead was quickly extended. After good Kendal build up work, West Hartlepool were caught offside in midfield and this time Glen Weightman’s kick went over. 8v0.

Better was to follow. Steven Nelson gathered the restart and made a good run. When the ball came back Glen Weightman put a kick downfield. Initially this looked a mistake, as West Hartlepool took the ball and counterattacked, but when stopped the ball was turned over. With the defence wrong footed it just needed a few good passes, Dan Greenwood made ground but instead of taking contact made the right decision and got a pass away to Glen Weightman who again made ground before giving Nick Carlton a pass, for him to go over for the try. This time Glen Weightman’s difficult kick perfectly dissected the posts. 15v0 after just seven minutes and Kendal seemed to be coasting to a comfortable victory.

Four minutes later however West Hartlepool were back in the game. A poor box kick gifted ball to West Hartlepoo,l and whilst there was a good chase West Hartlepool managed to retain possession and eventually won a penalty that was drilled into touch. Their giant second row won the throw and there was nothing the Kendal pack could do as they were driven over the line for West Hartlepool’s opening score. 15v5

A West Hartlepool box kick out of defence was knocked on to give them the ball in the Kendal half. The scoring move was soon repeated with another penalty put to touch and the West Hartlepool pack driving over for a second try. This time the conversion hit the cross bar but bounced over. 15v12

When Kendal were awarded a penalty in mid-field on the ten metre line, Glen Weightman ignored the view from the touchline to go for the corner, and back himself to put the kick over and managed it with plenty to spare. 18v12 after just twenty minutes.

Five minutes later Kendal lost Ben Dixon with a cut, with Alistair Thompson coming on to replace him.

Having seen the earlier kicked dropped, West Hartlepool kicked to Rory Blakeney Edwards again, but this time he gathered and managed to evade a number of tackles to make good ground down the touchline, only to be stopped by a high tackle.

On the half hour Kendal had a let off, when after patient build up in the West Hartlepool twenty two the ball was moved wide, only for a pass to be intercepted. Fortunately the referee had spotted a knock on and called play back for a Kendal scrum. From the scrum Alistair Thompson made a good run sucking the defence in, and when the ball came back to Greg Wrathall, he romped over for the try, with Glen Weightman adding the conversion. 25v12

Ben Dixon returned after the score, with Alistair Thompson going back to the bench.

In injury time, West Hartlepool added a third try from a driven lineout, so with the conversion there was just a single score gap at half time. 25v19

Ten minutes into the second half there was a blow for Kendal. West Hartlepool put a clearance kick out of defence and Kris Bratton jumped to collect it, but when he landed fell awkwardly. After five minutes of treatment he was forced to leave the field on a stretcher.

Whilst he was being treated, Logan Flett came on to make his debut in place of Tom Moulton, and then Bratton was replaced by Alistair Thompson, but it was Ben Dixon who came out of the back row onto the left wing.

The referee had been very strict on anything like a high tackle in the first half, and when Danny Barker, who had been putting some big tackles in, mistimed one, he was sent to the touchline for ten minutes.

Just before Barker returned, Kendal extended their lead. Glen Weightman put a kick down the left wing and there was a good chase by Ben Dixon. Whilst West Hartlepool got the ball back it was then turned over, but West Hartlepool were caught offside in midfield. With Glen Weightman hobbling, he handed kicking duties to Mark Carruthers who slotted over the penalty, to push the gap back over a single score. 28v19.

A West Hartlepool kick was charged down and Glen Weightman got to the loose ball first and kicked ahead, but hampered by injury the defence was just able to outpace him.

Kendal made their final change with ten minutes of normal time to play with Dane Blenkharn coming on for Glenn Chesher.

From a lineout deep in their own half (where the throw was closer to their scrum half than the centre of the lineout), West Hartlepool started another long drive. Chris Evans was adjudged to have illegally brought the maul down, and after Kendal escaped further punishment for similar offences in the first half, he sent to the touchlines for ten minutes.

Two minutes later numbers were evened up with West Hartlepool’s giant No4 John Bunter, becoming the third to see a yellow card, after an adjudged high tackle.

Kendal had started to not compete at the lineouts to prevent the use of the driving maul, but facing with a lineout near their line, after Glen Weightman had put the resulting penalty to touch, when West Hartlepool tried the same trick it backfired, as Greg Wrathall found himself in space and made no mistake in using it to get the line. Mark Carruthers stepped up to show anything his captain could do, he could match, and put the conversion over from near the touchline. 35v19

With the game won there were seven minutes of added time for the long injury to Bratton and a number of West Hartlepool players, and Jordan Johnson became the fourth player to get a yellow card, and third for a high tackle.

After seeming to be coasting early on Kendal lost their way a little, against a team which offered little except their driven lineout, but that is an enormous weapon, especially on an afternoon with a referee quick to penalise both teams for dangerous tackles. This is an area Cumbrian referees seem a lot tougher on, than in the rest of the league.

The win sees the team go ahead of Bradford & Bingley, who they visit next weekend. Probably another tight game, so keeping the penalty count down and fifteen players on the field will be important. B&B went down by 17v7 at Malton this weekend. Our next home game in three weeks is York, who went second with a win over previously second place Moortown, who drop to fifth. With Scarborough losing at Morley, there are just six points separating the top five, three of whom Kendal have picked up losing bonus points against this season.

For regular home supporters who missed the game. The new Winter kick off time is 2.15pm (not 2.00pm as in previous seasons). Supposedly to “avoid confusion” by falling into line with most other teams. We will soon get used to it, but with mentions of 2.00pm both in the programme and on the website, it caused us a bit of confusion this afternoon.

With teams travelling so far to visit us this season, a slightly earlier end might have been popular, but it allows them to leave home a little later. With the lights it is not such a problem as the gathering gloom of the old Mint Bridge (although that is very well lit now !)