Redditch 8 Old Wheatleyans 51
Midlands Four West (South)
BARRING three bonus point victories in their remaining three games, a drawn fixture between fellow strugglers Greyhound and Coventrians and no further points for the latter two, Redditch had their relegation confirmed on Saturday.
It was always going to be a tall order to get anything from this fixture as OWs stand top of the league but, although Redditch were well beaten on the scoreboard, they matched their visitors nose to nose when it came to determination and effort.
However, when it boiled down to it, OWs were a bigger side man for man with confidence running through their veins. Their strong, straight running and an eye for an overlap proved to be the difference between a team looking for promotion and one destined for relegation.
Redditch started the brighter, catching OWs off their guard with enterprising kicks which led to a penalty kick opportunity which James Mills converted.
All this did ultimately was poke the tiger, who roared straight back and slapped the upstart Redditch back in its place, as the direct running style paid off with a couple of tries, one on either wing.
Redditch enjoyed a fair amount of possession but not a great deal of territory was earned, whereas in contrast when OWs had the ball they were more concerned with gaining ground, which inevitably led to scores when the defence was splintered trying to cope with the attacks coming from all directions.
Late replacement full back George Wood-Docker, prevented a couple of scores with courageous tackling and Jack Mertens, Harvey Habgood and Phil Harding kept their opposite men occupied.
However, when outnumbered they were helpless, which proved the case with the next two OWs tries, none of which were converted due to the high wind, leaving the hosts 20-3 down at the break.
The second half followed much the same pattern as the visitors soaked up the pressure Redditch exerted, containing drives from the front row union and second row pairing of Mike and Matt Allen especially and then when their chances came they were executed with clinical efficiency.
The first try of the half came from a clean backs switch move and moments later a kick ahead was either pure skill or pure luck but was worth five points either way.
Even under the inevitable circumstances they found themselves in, Redditch did not give up the effort. Fly-half and man of the match Will Spires, playing off one leg for most of the second half, constantly kept the opposition guessing and in the pack the back row of Lucas Bates, Clarke Parker and Jack Duffy ran themselves into the ground with constant harrying.
Livewire Will Baillon was a constant threat and was rewarded with a late try following up a Mills break. Baillon was replaced by Ollie Mason and Wayne Buzko maintained the momentum when he entered the fray, as did Simon Fitzpatrick who chose to take the second row slot rather than full back.
A couple of late tries pushed the scoreline up and nailed the coffin lid down but, if the spirit and determination shown in this game can be maintained and built upon, then the Kingfishers should have no problem bouncing straight back.
A trip to Pershore awaits Redditch for their next fixture on March 23.