Woodrush 23 Pershore 19
Midlands Three West (South)
WOODRUSH and visitors Pershore gave the punters plenty of entertainment on Saturday as they claimed a narrow victory to reclaim top spot.
The occasion saw the visit of a delegation from the Czech RFU who were at Icknield Street as part of an exchange designed to promote international development.
The match proved to be as tight an affair as it was breathless as the game varied between moments of sublime running rugby to a titanic forward battle and the one-score difference between the two sides was, in the end, the result of Woodrush’s greater first half adventure.
Woodrush now sit one point above second placed Bedworth, but four above third placed Dunlop who returned empty-handed from Cheltenham North.
The home side started very brightly, putting the visitors under a great deal of pressure from a fast rucking and recycling game and Josh Tomlinson slotted over a penalty after only five minutes.
Pershore responded immediately with several strong carries of their own, crossing close to the posts and slotting over the conversion to put them four points to the good.
It was proving to be end to end stuff and a typical snipe and touchdown from Titch Thomas on the quarter hour wide on the left again gave the home team the edge in a very tight encounter.
However, the next 20 minutes were pretty much all Woodrush and they scored two further tries out of the very top drawer.
Firstly a ball from first phase was crashed up the middle of the park by coach Jon Ford and the resultant fast recycle saw the ball in John Board’s hands on the right wing with a fraction of space.
He still had an enormous amount of work to do but, fast and elusive, he beat three defenders to cross wide on the right before Tomlinson slotted the extras to give his a little breathing space.
The game threatened to get away from the visitors on the half hour when excellent work by the Woodrush eight Dan Lavander put Andy Poole away on the left wing. Again he had work to do but he finished with aplomb wide out to see the home side extend their lead to 23-7.
The last five minutes of the first half was a sign of things to come in the second period as Pershore pressed with scrummage after scrummage on the Woodrush line, only to be denied by resilient defence.
The visitors reverted to their most effective style in the second half and they proved to be very good indeed at the tight game. The home side barely had a look-in during the whole second 40 but they defended doggedly throughout.
Three yellow cards to the home team for legitimate misdemeanours under significant pressure meant the Green & Whites played most of the half with 14 men but their record as the best side in this league defensively stood tall and Pershore could only manage two tries to narrow the gap significantly but not enough to overhaul the hosts.
On 70 minutes though a clearcut opening for the Pershore left winger saw him cross the Rush line, only for Ed Gardiner to make a miracle tackle over the line, dislodging the ball from his grasp and saving the game for the men from Icknield Street.
The final whistle was undoubtedly a relief for the home team in a game which proved to be a great advertisement for the grassroots game for the international visitors.
Pershore were immense in the second half and lesser sides would definitely have crumbled under their onslaught. Undoubtedly, if the men from Wyre Piddle could find a back line to match their excellent forwards, then they would be enjoying much more success.
However, it was Pershore who prevailed, setting them up nicely for their next and vital league encounter at Dunlop on January 31.