Claverdon 34 Redditch 34
Midlands Four West (South)
REDDITCH fought back from a hefty second half deficit to earn a share of the spoils and take three points away from Saturday’s final game of the season at Ossetts Hole Lane.
The season finale produced a feast of entertaining rugby for the well lubricated crowd of enthusiastic supporters.
Redditch had chosen to arrive by coach but for the first quarter of the game they still seemed to be on board admiring the view as Claverdon took advantage of their slope, dubious decisions by the reluctant whistle-blower and positional naivety by the Redditch defenders to move 19-0 up.
Redditch flickered into life briefly when sharp passing between Lewis Saddington and Barrie Forrester-Smith allowed the latter to burst half the length of the pitch before feeding Mark Green who scored his first try, which Sam Gladwin converted.
It was not long before the same midfield combination clicked beautifully again and this time it was Will Ballion who crossed the line to bring the score to 19-12 with half time beckoning.
However, the momentum shifted yet again as Claverdon scored a fourth try when play should surely have been stopped after a blatant accidental offside, but the try was allowed to stand and the sides turned around with the Lions leading 26-12.
Claverdon started the second half on a high and a series of drives on the Redditch try-line eventually resulted in a penalty out wide. As the Kingfishers debated the virtues of such a decision, Claverdon caught them napping and scored in the corner.
Whether Redditch were bitten by the injustice of these two tries or just threw caution to the wind is unknown, but the tide was about to turn as their pack upped their game.
Punishing runs gained more and more ground and replacements added some extra spark to the pace of the game.
Green scored another try on the left wing, before Harvey Habgood outstripped his opposite man before feeding Ballion for his second try.
Jack Duffy and Nathan Marthews took their pack forward with some brutal drives and back row partner Gareth Davies was everywhere, snuffing out attacks, covering defensively and leading his team forward.
The last try of the game came when Ballion returned the favour for Forrester-Smith whose grounding gave Gladwin a tricky yet successful conversion which levelled the score.
The game then got a little tense as the care-free, Barbarian-type rugby took a back seat and a more restrained final five minutes saw the sides exchange successful penalty kicks.