IT WAS a day to savour at Bromsgrove Road on Saturday when celebrations went on long into the night after Redditch’s 31-10 victory over Claverdon secured a dramatic survival in Midlands Four West (South).
Coupled with Birmingham Civil Service’s surprise 36-13 defeat at already relegated Tenbury, the result lifted the Kingfishers three points above the Solihull side and ensured it is the latter who will drop a division.
The message from Redditch coach Simon Fitzpatrick was clear – play to your ability and strengths and the result will come, whilst not worrying about events elsewhere – and the formula worked to perfection.
With the match also marking Brian Carr’s President’s Day, there was much excitement mixed with trepidation, but Redditch began the match in determined style and did not give the visitors any opportunity to have any sort of momentum as they slowly pushed them back into their own half, where the majority of the game was to be played.
Tom Saddington had a dominant game at fly-half, controlling the moves and gaining territory with pinpoint kicks, whilst he was also instrumental in starting the move which led to the first try.
Saddington ripped the ball out in a tackle and fed Josh Kearney who in turn drove the defence backwards. From the ensuing rucks and mauls, it was prop Rafa Jarka who fought his way over the line for a try converted by Sam Gladwin.
Redditch continued to dominate possession for the rest of the half, although only one one more score would follow.
The effort and positive attitude was there but crucial handling errors let them down just as the reward was beckoning. It was Nathan Marthews who settled the nerves with a typical direct burst to the line to give the hosts a 12-0 half-time lead.
The second half resumed in much the same pattern, mostly played in the visitors’ half, as Redditch slowly built pressure until the dam broke.
Will Baillon was first to benefit although his touchdown was wiped off for on offence previously in the move. The breakthrough came when a well-rehearsed training ground move paid rich dividends when Lewis Saddington cut a perfect line between the posts, enabling Gladwin to easily add the extras.
It was not long before Lewis Saddington got his second try when fine play between backs and forwards saw him emerge with the killer line once more, cutting diagonally across the would-be tacklers for another straightforward conversion from Gladwin which put the home side 26-0 up and virtually home and dry in terms of their own efforts.
With the try-scoring bonus point in the bag, Redditch seemed to take their eye off the ball, just as they had managed to do a couple of weeks earlier against Civil Service when the prize seemed to be there for the taking.
Claverdon scored a try virtually from the restart, although Redditch replied with a fifth try of their own when, after being awarded a penalty deep into Lions territory, there were calls for a scrum to calm the game down.
Skipper James Mills had other ideas and took a quick tap which resulted in Ash Mooney diving over for the last Redditch try of a roller-coaster season.
Claverdon did bag one more try with the last play of the match but by then Redditch had done what they needed to do.
When news quickly arrived of Tenbury’s win, the dressing room was awash with cheers, beers and tears. A full house for President’s Day had witnessed a cracking game in fine weather and celebrations went on well into the night.
With the 2nds sealing a comfortable victory against the same opposition, it was a fine end to the season for Redditch, who will now look forward to their awards night on May 19.