Woodrush 26 Bedworth 19
Midlands Three West (South)
AFTER the drubbing at the hands of higher league opposition in the cup the previous week, newly-promoted Woodrush made amends by securing victory in Saturday’s opening league fixture.
Bedworth have endured successive relegations in the last two seasons, but their pre-season form proves they have steadied the ship and they would have been looking at this fixture with relish against a home side who last season were two levels below them.
However, Woodrush hit their straps early, playing a game of high tempo against a far larger pack in an attempt to move them around as much as possible and a blistering back move following clinical phase play saw Ed Gardiner bring Steve Smart on to the ball at pace.
He in turn released Andy Poole to cross after just five minutes of play. It was first blood to the home team and, with Smart adding the extras, an air of confidence seemed to settle on the men in green and white.
Bedworth charged back into the fray as some heavy forward drives took their toll, but a stray kick into the Woodrush 22m zone saw Smart field the ball sharply before offloading to Dan Lavander and then Anton Taylor in space over the halfway line and the Rush seven switched on the after-burners to score from broken play, with the try once again converted by Smart.
Rush were in the clear ascendancy in open play but were guilty of butchering several clear scoring opportunities which would have put them well ahead during the first 20 minutes and this is something that will no doubt be a concern for the coaches to put right on the training pitch over the coming weeks.
Bedworth’s strength was clearly in their huge pack and their strategy became clear from thereon in, driving hard narrow to the rucks and controlling much of the possession.
However, despite their heavyweight presence, they were only able to respond with one try in the first half to bring the turnaround at 14-5 to the home side.
The second half started similarly to the first with the Rush upping the pace and moving the Bedworth men around. From a restart Titch Thomas found Jake Bagby loitering with intent and the prop barged aside his opposite number, making 20 metres before offloading in the tackle to Gardiner – running an excellent support line – who fed John Board who burst over the try line.
Smart, the Woodrush captain, was then yellow-carded, which left the home team short-handed for ten minutes during which they defended with some steel against a growing onslaught from the gutsy men from Warwickshire.
Smart returned with no damage to the scoreline and made amends for his misdemeanour by taking a wide miss-pass from Gardiner and showing a clean pairs of heels to the overstretched defence to record a fourth try and valuable bonus point for the home team.
Bedworth rather predictably then tightened their game up and managed to score two more tries – late in the day admittedly – but enough to win them a deserved losing bonus point.
Woodrush visit much-fancied Old Wheatleyans on Saturday in what will be a fascinating encounter and another great challenge for the men from Icknield Street.