REDDITCH remain without a victory after three league games following a superb second-half fightback from visitors Claverdon on Saturday.
The Kingfishers led 17-8 at the break and were on course to register a first win of the Midlands Four West (South) campaign, but the Lions had other ideas and 34 unanswered points after the interval sealed a 42-17 win.
The hosts made a bright start and had set up numerous attacking moves before they opened the scoring. Pressurising the visitors into mistakes, Jack Mertens capitalised on one such error and managed to get the ball to winger Adam Curren who outpaced his opposite number for a deserved five-point opener.
It was not long before Mertens was to get his own reward for persistence when he finished off a fine attacking move to put Redditch 10-0 up.
Claverdon were shaken into life and played a tighter game, thus eliminating the errors which had come from trying an expansive game.
They built pressure on the Redditch try line and a succession of penalties ended up with a straightforward barge over for their first try, although none of the opening tries were converted.
Redditch were now having problems creating attacking moves. A dominant scrum and share of loose ball meant they had possession but, even with forward drives of returning Redditch man of the match Jack Bacciocchi and Nathan Marthews, they could never quite break free.
The frustration may have resulted in an over-reliance on kicking ahead, sometimes it paid off, but often it just returned the ball back to Claverdon who in turn ran it back at Redditch.
However, one Redditch kick for territory worked beautifully. Phil Harding was up on his man swiftly and, as the ball was dropped, Marthews was on hand to pick up some ground before feeding Mark Green who outstripped the defence to score between the posts, converted by Ashley Mooney.
The visitors finished the first half scoring with a penalty but at 17-8 the Kingfishers looked good.
The second half was in complete contrast as Claverdon upped their game. Instead of the slick hands and passing moves which had not worked in the first half, they concentrated on straight, hard running and close-quarter support.
All aspects succeeded as they ran in six tries without reply. The visitors were assisted by disappointing tackles at crucial moments by Redditch, who saw the game they seemed to be winning evaporate before their eyes.
They got frustrated with their own failings and inevitably with some decisions – with some justification – and a couple of yellow cards, but ultimately they were well beaten by a Claverdon side who were able to alter their strategy successfully.
John Wormington was able to show off his propping skills, to the consternation of the referee, in a Redditch pack that consistently held its own. However, it was the running in the loose that was the difference between the sides.
Although the season has not got going yet for Redditch, there is no need for despondency. The three league defeats have come at the hands of top five sides and there are plenty of opportunities to revive their fortunes, starting on Saturday at Coventrians, another side who have had a disappointing start to the season.