Redditch 16 Coventry Welsh 21
Midlands Four West (South)
REDDITCH gained a valuable bonus point against promotion-chasing Coventry Welsh on Saturday.
The result leaves the Kingfishers five points above bottom side Tenbury and two behind third from bottom Birmingham Civil Service, although Redditch have played a game more than both sides.
The visitors opened the game with a barrage of attacks that eventually earned them seven points when their nimble hooker picked a hole in the staunch defence.
However, the Redditch reply was instant as wave after wave of moves pushed Welsh further and further back and a strong lineout drive pushed them back over their own line, with Will Ballion appearing from the mass of bodies with the ball to register five points.
The visitors responded with a drop goal which was answered by a Sam Gladwin penalty to leave the Coventry side two points up.
Redditch centres Josh Kearney and Ballion had moments to shine, whilst home man of the match Lewis Saddington played a smart territorial game being fed by Kit Hemming, back in the scrum half role.
The pack were holding their own well up front, although flanker John Wormington tested the referee’s patience and had an enforced breather for pushing the offside line to its limits too often.
Redditch coach Simon Fitzpatrick was obliged to start the game at prop, although his astute reading of the game allowed him to pop up all over the pitch.
Moments of magic included a dummied kick to touch which was closely followed by a pirouette out of a tackle, bringing truth to the old adage that inside every large prop a slim winger was fighting to get out.
Nathan Marthews and Matt Allen were busy driving forward, whilst Jack Duffy and Wormington thwarted their opposition at the breakdowns, but with the last play of the half the visitors extended their lead with a penalty kick which made it 13-8.
The opening minute of the second half proved to be pivotal as a fluffed kick-off from Redditch resulted in a scrum on halfway and quick ball and even quicker feet meant that within seconds Welsh had scored out wide and were in a more comfortable position at 18-8 up.
Play centred in the middle of the pitch for most of the remainder of the game, with not a lot of try-line action but entertaining fare nonetheless.
Fine support play from both sides kept the ball in play for long spells but clear chances were few and far between.
An exchange of penalties kept Redditch in touch but they still had nothing to show for their endeavour.
Replacements from both sides meant a little rhythm was lost but the revitalised Ballion, who had returned to the pitch, continued to snipe and, hungry for the ball, one such attack put Redditch deep into Welsh territory and a slick offload to the supporting Matt Allen gave the hosts their second try and revived hope.
However, good game management for the few remaining minutes was sadly lacking from the home side, who had to settle for one point.
Redditch return to league action with a trip to eighth placed Harbury on January 27.