Back to winning ways for KRFC
Knutsford dominated from the off and with their back line continuing to look impressive, the home side made several early breaks.
The youthful Knutsford backs seemed prepared to run the ball from anywhere on the pitch and were well marshalled and controlled by the imposing James at fly half. Knutsford were rewarded for their early dominance of territory and possession, as the evergreen Lockett continued his recent upturn in form, to round both the Congleton winger and full back to score in the right hand corner.
Knutsford looked to extended their lead in the opening quarter but were dogged by a lack of precision in the loose, as they struggled to exert any dominance at the ruck. Despite the lack of consistent ball Knutsford still looked superior to the visitors. The well-marshalled defence thwarted any Congleton attacks. Walker at inside centre led the defensive line with aplomb and was particularly destructive.
Ill discipline from Knutsford offered Congleton opportunities, and a missed penalty after 25 minutes should have acted as a catalyst to re-focus the home side, but Knutsford continued to be regularly penalised. Knutsford’s woes continued on the 30 minute mark when Barnes was sent off. Congleton spent the remainder of the half close to the Knutsford line but were unable to cross the whitewash. Knutsford looked resilient and their determination was epitomised by their effort in the scrum, as their young front row of Page, Kemp and Hulbert dug in to prevent several attempted push overs at the set piece.
Congleton were rewarded for their pressure with a late penalty, reducing the score to 5-3 at half time.
Knutsford began the second half with confidence, knowing that their scrum was able to provide a platform from which to build. With Knutsford now playing downhill and with the wind at their backs they were able to easily make territorial gains, both James and Mooney pinning Congleton deep in their own half.
With territorial dominance Knutsford were being presented with the opportunity to launch meaningful attacks. The forwards had suddenly come to life and Robertson, Dunkerley and Dawson seemed to have gained renewed vigour with the ball in hand. Several destructive runs from Dawson drove Knutsford up the park, and Mooney beautifully picked out Lockett to complete his brace for the day. James converted the try and Knutsford lead 12-3 with 45 minutes played
Minutes later Knutsford further extended their advantage. Following some strong scrummaging close to the Congleton line, the ball was fed to the backs and Walker capped off his man of the match performance with a well taken score under the posts.
Snook and Robertson continued to disrupt Congleton ball and seemed to make up for Congleton’s numerical advantage. This allowed Knutsford to become comfortable and they were now able to play with a confidence that had been missing in previous weeks.
Another Dawson run lead directly to another try for the home side. James fed the rampaging second row who barrelled over two tacklers to touch down from 20 metres. Mooney converted the kick and the home team now looked to have sealed victory.
With Knutsford in a strong position on the scoreboard and controlling possession and territory they were able to make several replacements. Heaney came on to replace Lockett and quickly made an impact on the game. Some superb handling from Robertson and Mooney released Crawford on the right wing, 35 metres out. He looked to have the pace to complete the score himself, but he drew the cover defence on to him and slipped the ball back inside to Heaney who cantered in to score under the posts.
Knutsford played out the remaining 10 minutes and were disappointed to conceded a late score, but both coach, Ryan Acton and the club’s Director of Rugby, Sam Fishburne were pleased with the performance and the result.
Knutsford 33 Congleton 10
Knutsford will look to develop on this victory against Helsby next weekend at Mereheath Lane, 2.15 kick off.