New Year Hangover for Blues
Ketterings fine run of results came to an end at league leaders Syston, when a disappointing, lacklustre performance from the Blues saw the home side win 15-3.
The New Year was always going to be tough for the Blues, with games against Syston and Bedford Athletic immediately after the Christmas break, and the withdrawal of back three Jordan Butlin, Paul Sumner and Damien Conyard, was clearly not going to help matters, although the return of Joe Daniel, after a lengthy injury lay-off, helped matters.
Syston started stronger and scored an unconverted try when the Blues turned ball over, won it back and then turned it over again, to give the impressive Ian Smith the opportunity to break through a disorganised defence for the opening score.
Kettering came back, and Daniel converted his second penalty attempt to close the gap to 2 points with 20 minutes gone. Despite an abundance of ball, the home side could not break down the Blues defence, and eventually settled for a penalty to lead 8-3 at the break. The scoreline gave away the fact that both sides were struggling with continuity and the Blues had become embroiled in a physical contest, which was very much against their normal style of play.
With the slope in their favour in the second half, the Blues looked to build pressure, but far too many handling errors and the continues desire to find contact meant that the home side could use the stiff breeze at their backs to continually pin Kettering back in their own half.
The closest the blues came to scoring was a Bruce Keir interception on his own 10-metre line. Despite his best efforts the home defence scrambled back and brought Keir down a metre short of the line. Unfortunately for the visitors, his offload couldn't be taken and the chance to level the scores went begging.
As the game moved into its latter stages, the visitors became more and more desperate, and as they attempted to run out of defence the ball was again turned over and Smith outstripped the cover defence to seal the game with a second Syston try, which was also converted, to see the home team deserved winners, 15-3.
RAJ Man of the Match: Ryan Conyard