Blues win at home again, against Wellingborough, but only JUST!
Kettering won their 5th game of the season to move into 3rd place in the league, but victory was only claimed with the very last kick of the match.
With league and cup games being played for in the same game, if it was at all required, there was an extra edge to this local derby, played on the day of the KRFC Past Players Lunch.
Blues were the form team, but as usual that counted for nothing in a game between these two clubs and the visitors came so very close to being the first team in Midlands 1 East to lower the home sides colours in over a season.
Wellingborough started well and pressed hard, but Kettering weathered the early storm to set up their own assault on the 'Boro' line. Indeed, had the Blues taken their early chances, the outcome could have been different, but it was the visitors who eventually opened the scoring with a penalty.
Blues hit back, and finally Paul Sumner scored after the Wellingborough defence was outflanked. Joe Daniel converted to give Kettering a 7-3 lead.
The expectant home crowd now waited for the flood gates to open, but it was Wellingborough who scored next after Ryan Conyard was yellow carded for a deliberate knock-on, which video evidence later showed was clearly a "knock back"! The visitors took full advantage of the extra player and scored a converted try to lead 10-7.
As half-time approached the Blues laid seige to the Wellingborough line. So much so that after a succession of 6 consecutive penalties the referee eventually took action and yellow carded 2 of the Wellingborough players. Still Kettering couldn't score and a knock-on a 5-metre lineout brought the half to a conclusion.
The Blues started the second half well, and took the lead with a Steve Freeman try, converted by Daniel. Again this was cancelled out by a Wellingborough converted try to regain the lead as the game entered its final quarter. 17-14.
The game was see-sawing from one end to the other, as the scoreline suggests, and Kettering scored next with a typical Steve Fraher 3-metre dash. Daniel missed the conversion to see the Blues leading 19-17 with 10 minutes to play.
Again Wellingborough fought back as tenaciously as they had contested the whole game, and they were rewarded with a penalty inside the Blues 22, which Pete Vickers converted to give what looked like the win to the visitors. 19-20.
As time ran out, and with Wellingborough retaining the ball, it certainly looked like they would be the jubilant side as the end of the game approached. Inexplicably, they chose to kick the ball upfield, and Daniel launched a counter attack from within the home half. 12 phases later, the Blues were still outside the Wellingborough 22, as the referee called "time is up". At this call Daniel was "in the pocket" fully 45-metres from the Wellingborough posts. Despite this, he called for the ball from replacement scrum-half, Chester Hilson, who's pass reached its target perfectly and Daniel dropped for goal. The wind was still blowing a gale, but Daniels kick was straight and true and sailed through between the posts and well over the crossbar to secure the win for Kettering. Final Score 22-20.
As for Man of the Match, after that drop goal, there could only be one winner this week, Joe Daniel. A real "magic moment" in an otherwise disappointing Blues performance.
RAJ Man of the Match: Joe Daniel