Greyhound 32 Redditch 14
Midlands Four West (South)
REDDITCH are staring down the barrel at relegation after defeat in Saturday’s rearranged game against their Herefordshire hosts.
The win took the hosts out of the bottom two but left the Kingfishers 11 points adrift of safety with an inferior points difference and just six matches remaining.
Injuries, work commitment and late pull-outs deprived Redditch of their first choice 15 and, although those who made the journey played their hearts out, it was not enough to secure any points and leaves relegation as highly likely.
A strong wind blew end to end in the first half but at times it was too gusty to be useful, with the danger of the ball getting blown too far and territory being lost.
Greyhound played into the elements correctly as close, short passes to support runners allowed them to slowly build on ground gained until they were within range of the Redditch posts and one of the frequent penalties Redditch conceded gave the home side a successful three-point kick at goal.
Greyhound extended their lead with a blindside break when a blatant knock-on in the tackle was missed by the referee and Redditch hesitated for the whistle. Greyhound did not and so scored an unconverted try.
The lively Will Baillon kept the Greyhound defence on its toes and Steve Wilman at fly-half was active in creating breaks and space with Mark Green, but Redditch were unable to break through a stubborn back line.
The visitors’ scrum was the stronger in the set-piece though and the lineouts were messy in the wind, but Redditch won more than they lost.
However, the first Redditch try came from a more traditional manner when a tap penalty for Jack Bacciocchi to charge forward opened up space which Wilman capitalised upon to score a try which he converted himself.
It was at this point Redditch lost their influential centre Jack Mertens to a head injury and as the only replacement was a prop – Luke Kerins – a major juggle of positions was required.
However, in the time it took Redditch to settle, Greyhound had scored two more tries via an overlap on the left wing for the first and a clever chip that held up in the gale allowing the winger to easily score the next, even though Baillon charged down the conversion attempt.
Being 20-7 down at the break was not in the pre-match game plan and losing Nathan Marthews to another head injury meant Redditch were facing a confident side, who would have the wind in their favour, with only 14 men on the pitch.
The visitors could easily have thrown the towel in and get rolled over and it is to the credit of all involved they did not. In fact, they played their best rugby of the game when they were up against it.
Their scrum held its own despite being a man light, Matt Allen and Bacciocchi were on the front line driving forward and tackling, closely followed by Rafa Jarka and Stu Hope in the pack.
Debutant Lucas Bates was heavily involved, as was Mike Allen. Will Spires had been sacrificed to the backs due to the injuries and skipper James Mills constantly encouraged his men to push forward, support the runners and not give up, even when the horizontal hailstorm hit them for a ten-minute spell.
They tried to keep the game focused on the forwards where they were the dominant side which meant wingers Harvey Habgood and Adam Currian were under-used.
However, the extra man for Greyhound was ultimately compelling and they scored two second half tries as they capitalised on gaps in the defence, although Redditch had the last word when Baillon again broke to find space and chipped through for Habgood to pick up neatly and weave his way under the posts for Wilman to convert.
Wilman was named Redditch man of the match but it could have gone to many others, not least of which was Kerins who entered the fray as a replacement, played 50 minutes, suffered cramp attacks but showed he still possesses a golden boot.
Redditch host Harbury – two places and 11 points above them – in what is surely a must-win game on Saturday.