Knutsford edged out by Capenhurst
Knutsford’s youthful side started brightly and competed well at the breakdowns, with the back row of Higgins, Snook and Barnes combining well to slow down opposition ball.
Capenhurst struggled to dent Knutsford’s organised, tight defence and were forced to throw the ball wide in the early exchanges. Pressure from Walker and Heaney in the centres resulted in a dropped Capenhurst ball which fly half James hacked through from 40 metres to cooly score under the posts, with Mooney adding the conversion to put Knutsford 7-0 up after only 10 minutes.
After only 19 minutes Knutsford were dealt a blow when their captain, Oliver Mooney was forced off the field with an eye injury. This allowed Knutsford to introduce the returning Crawford to the centres. The away side contiued to be a menace in the loose, but as in previous weeks they were beginning to struggle in the set piece, espically the scrum.
Following a series of penalties Capenhurst leveled the score on the half hour mark. The home side elected to scrum a penalty from the 5 metre line and they were rewarded for their forward dominace with their number 8 scoring a push over try.
Knutsford responded well to this set back and continued to play the open game that suits them so well. The forwards continually stole ball at the breakdown, with Robertson being a menance that the oppostion could not contain. With 35 minutes on the clock Knutsford re-captured the lead. A strong scrum allowed Higgins to attack the blind side and feed scrum half Heaney, who put Rick Jones in to score from 25 metres. James converted the try and Knutsford went in at half time leading 14-7.
In the second half Knutsford tried to keep the game open and allow Capenhurst to play around the fringes and into the strong Knutsford defence. However the half was littered with errors and as a result this played to the strength of the strong Capenhurst scrum. Knutsford’s young front row of Hulbert, Kemp and Paige were given a strong examination by their much more experienced opposition. The Knutsford pack battled hard but were struggling to gain parity at the set piece.
A converted penalty 5 minutes into the half reduced Knutsford’s lead to 4 points. 15 minutes into the half Knutsford’s coach, Ryan Acton introduced Tom Fuller for his debut, in an attempt to shackle the Capenhurst number 8. As the game continued to become more fractious the error count continued to rise and the game descended into a succession of scrums.
Capenhurst were awared two penalty tries within the space of 15 minutes, following collapsed scrums close to Knutsford’s line. Knutsford felt that on both occasions they were awarded harshly. Following the game captain Mooney commented that some aspect of the scrum particularly the engagement and bind had not been scrutinised sufficiently by the officials and as a result enababled Capenhurst to build a solid platfrom at the scrum.
Knutsford were fortunate to stay in touch with Capenhust, as the home side continue to apply pressure on the Knutsford line. Some exceptional defence from the sides veteran Richard Lockett prevented the winger from touching down in the corner and then moments later he used all his experience to read the situation and come in from the wing to smother a marauding forward on the Knutsford line.
With 15 minutes reamining and Knutsford now trailing 24-14 Capenhurst were temporarily reduced to 14 men. This spurred Knutsford on. The forwards began to carry the ball strongly and possesion was quicky recycled. Powerful runs from Jones, Higgins and Dunkerley epitomised Knutsford’s new found determination. However for all the effort the away side were unable to convert and reduce the score.
Capenhurst 24 Knutsford 14
Knutsford battled well and will look to take the positives forward into their next weekends fixture, which sees them entertain Congleton at Mereheath Lane, 2.15 kick off.