Ross-on-Wye 37 Redditch 7
North Midlands Vase semi-final
NORTH Midlands Cup Finals Day was only one match away but now it will take place without Redditch who were beaten by a strong Ross side who have won every game this season.
The Herefordshire side have already secured promotion from Wadworth 6X Gloucester South West Division and it was not hard to see why as they secured a victory which sets up a May 13 final against either Clee Hill or Chaddesley Corbett.
Ross, although not a particularly large side or blessed with outstanding skills, have a team ethic and industry which was there to admire as slowly but surely they snuffed out all Redditch attacks and built a lead the visitors found impossible to overhaul.
A couple of early penalty kicks eased Ross into the lead before Redditch responded with a couple of breakaway moves from Ashley Mooney and Barrie Forrester-Smith but both were hauled down before endangering the home line.
Redditch’s pattern was broken up when a yellow card for Nathan Marthews and head injury to Lewis Saddington meant disruption all-round.
A penalty kick to touch was the cornerstone of a neat interchange of passes for Ross to score their first try and it did not take long for a similar move to bear fruit a second time and some smart footwork by the Ross winger was rewarded with their third try.
Their kicker had a good day, converting most, and with half an hour played Redditch were 27-0 down and staring down the barrel.
Instead of folding though, the Kingfishers upped their game but still fell foul of an officious referee who picked up offences which may have been overlooked had he not been being assessed.
Mark Green received a yellow for a high tackle that lightly brushed his victim, but laws are laws. The back row kept themselves busy, spoiling moves and counter-rucking, whilst Matt Dickinson in his first start for the first team at hooker showed great promise.
The second half was a more evenly contested game with most of the play happening in the middle third of the pitch, but neither side was able to break down stubborn defences.
Occasionally Redditch did make some telling ground with ball in hand and Forrester-Smith was at the forefront of much of this.
One such break resulted in the only Redditch score of the game when Gareth Davies supported a battling run and, although at first it looked as if Redditch had blown their chance, the ever-active Rafal Jarka burrowed his way through the bodies to score a try converted by Sam Gladwin.
If there were flickering hopes of a comeback, they were soon extinguished by another penalty kick for an alleged high tackle and shortly afterwards the jinking running of the Ross left wing saw him cut back inside and through the outstretched arms for the final score of the day.
Forrester-Smith seemed to have scored a second try for Redditch following some delicate handling and a cheeky chip and catch, but he was bizarrely penalised whilst in the act of scoring – a decision which somehow seemed to sum up the afternoon for Redditch.
So, as the cliche goes, Redditch can now concentrate on the league. They still have a lot of work to do to escape the drop from Midlands Four West (South) and points at leaders Stoke Old Boys on Saturday would be most welcome.