Redditch 20 Burbage 17
Midlands Four West (South)
MARK GREEN grabbed the winning try to seal a third victory in four matches for Redditch.
Green was named man of the match but it was very much a team effort to defeat a side with title aspirations. Every player played their part as the Kingfishers ended 2017 on a high and with visions of pushing towards mid-table.
It had been a sombre start as a minute’s silence was held in memory of former captain and coach Ray Powell, who had died. He had been a skillful competitive and determined player on the pitch and great company in the clubhouse.
From the kick-off, Redditch stormed into their opposition, who had begun the day in second place, from the kick-off. The home forwards knocked the opposite number back repeatedly slowly opening up space to attack and when the decisive move came it was as impressive in its execution as it was in its simplicity.
A pass back inside from Lewis Saddington to Nathan Marthews opened a massive hole for him to gain 30 metres unopposed. Barrie Forrester-Smith was on hand for the offload and brushing aside flailing tackles he scored under the posts. Sam Gladwin converted.
With the forwards taking the game to the visitors there developed a closely-fought battle. Tackles were hard but fair, John Wormington constantly bringing down the Burbage runners, Jack Duffy picking up the spoils and enabling scrum-half Gladwin to distribute to the ever-eager backs, with Jamie Holloway leading many of the drives. However, the impetus was foiled when Redditch lost an attacking scrum and were outnumbered on the left wing allowing an all too simple try against them.
Though it was an entertaining game it was not the most skillful. Marthews had a speculative kick chase he narrowly failed to reach; coach Simon Fitzpatrick tried something similar but failed in the race too.
Redditch stretched their lead from a penalty kick from Gladwin, and sought to build on it.
There were some dazzling handling and interplay but also some wayward passing which was to become R’s undoing when a forced pass was eagerly intercepted for another simple try for Burbage which was converted for a 12-10 half-time lead.
Burbage extended their lead with an unconverted try, capitalising on errors when the Redditch defence failed to clear their lines safely.
The attrition in the slippery conditions and physical barrage led to substitutions on both sides, the most notable being Redditch’s introduction of Josh Kearney who, with his first touch of the ball, finished off a crisp handling move with an arcing run to the line to close the score to two points.
Not long afterwards another tidy handling move gave winger Green the room to out-sprint his opposition and score the winning points. The closing stages were possibly the most tense of the season, but the determined home side held onto their vital victory.
Redditch return to action on January 6 with a trip to Coventrians, who now lie second.