Blues fall at the final hurdle
After a magnificent season, which saw the Blues score over 1,000 points and concede less than any other side in the Midlands, at level 6, Kettering failed in their bid to win the play-off game against a very competent Bournville side, and will now play in
Both sides came into this game high on confidence, after long winning sequences stretching back into 2016, and the game started at a frantic pace.
Blues made a perfect start, when Dan Ireland found space on the left wing, handed off a would be tackler and scored in the corner. Bruce Keir's kick was unsuccessful, but he added the extra's when only 3 minutes later, Jordan Butlin jubilantly touched down under the posts after a chip and chase from skipper Tom Bridgeman bounced kindly for the Kettering centre and he fed Butlin for the winger to score. Ten minutes gone and the Blues led 12-0.
Bournville, however, were already showing what a threat they could be, and their pace and support was starting to cause the Blues some problems. Just when it looked like they would score, the Blues defence held firm and turned the ball over. Instead of settling for this, and clearing their lines though, they tried to move the ball under their own posts and a loose pass was intercepted and the visitors were on the board. 12-7.
Worse was to follow for the home side as firstly, a break by the Bournville number 8 was not dealt with, and subsequently the scores were levelled with an unconverted try wide out on the left, followed by quickly by a penalty, which saw the visitors take the lead and visibly grow in confidence. 12-15
Having conceded so few points this season, the Blues defence began to creak, and another converted score led to a 10 point difference, which was compounded by the loss of second row Will Bowley, with an ankle injury. With half-time approaching even worse was to follow as further pressure resulted in a fourth try for Bournville and critically, the loss of another Blues forward, as this time, the supporters player of the season, Dan Ireland, was forced to leave the field with a knee injury.
With little time left in the half, the Blues pressed to close the gap, and when Bruce Keir made a break close to the visitors line, his offload to Bridgeman looked like it would produce a try. Unfortunately for the home side the ball was lost forward, with many home players and supporters appealing for an early tackle, but the referee saw differently and blew for half-time. 12-27.
The Blues never gave up, but shorn of two of their most influential forwards, and with the visitors now playing with great confidence, the game was over early in the second half when another score from Bournville stretched the lead still further. Kettering came back, and some fine work from Josh Cox, and an offload, gave Shane Ling the chance to crash over for a converted try to close the gap to 19-34. But when number 8, George Newman broke through on a fine run, but was unable to offload to Bridgeman, the last chance of a comeback slipped by.
The visitors were in no mood to ease off and as Kettering began to lose their way, the rampant Bournville side pressed for more, scoring 3 more times before the end of the game, to come away deserved winners of the play-off game, and so secure a place in next years Midlands Premier Division, formerly National 3 Midlands. We wish them well, and look forward to seeing them succeed at the next level.
This has been a great season for the Blues, and everyone at the club can be rightly proud of what they achieved. Today was about showing who was equipped to play at the next level up, and Bournville proved they have learnt from 3 successive years of play-off defeats, and are ready for the challenge. For our part, we need to build on the massive improvements we have made in the past few years, and continue to improve next season. If we do so, we will surely be a real contender next season, and maybe in a position to make that step up ourselves. If not, we will certainly continue to strive to play a style of rugby which players and spectators can all enjoy and want to come back to week in and week out.
Thank you to all who have supported the side throughout this season. Our band of travelling support continues to grow and is much appreciated by the players and coaching staff.
One more game to go! Presidents game on the Sunday 14th May , at 1.00 pm, which is also the Mini/Junior Awards Day (starts at 10.00 am), a great opportunity for the whole club to come together and celebrate the end of a fine season, where numbers continue to grow, and more and more people participate, coach, manage or simply support our club and the great game of Rugby Union. Please come along and join us on this special day.