Redditch 25 Pershore 7
Midlands Four West (South)
THE KINGFISHERS moved up to seventh thanks to a convincing bonus point victory over Pershore at Bromsgrove Road on Saturday.
However, pre-match thoughts were focused on much more than rugby as a minute’s silence was held in memory of Chris Partridge, who tragically passed away as a result of a suspected heart attack suffered whilst playing for Woodrush Veterans against Redditch the previous weekend.
Chris, a former Woodrush first team number eight, will be sorely missed and both teams send their condolences to his partner Jackie and his three children and family.
The opening passages of the game were evenly contested as both sides probed. Missed tackles by both sides were a cause for concern but made for some interesting rugby as Redditch slowly turned the screw and gained the upper hand with possession and territory.
The opening try came from enterprising running from Bryn Williams who collected a wayward clearance kicked and took a direct line to the opposition.
A crisp pass to Mark Green saw him fly through flailing arms to be pulled down just short of the line but skipper Gareth Davies was on hand to take a neat offload and score between the posts and the conversion from Will Heath gave the hosts a deserved 7-0 lead.
Redditch took heart from the score and effectively took control of the game from that point. Lineouts were stolen, the ruck was a constant source of possession and Joe Alekna gained valuable yards with his driving running.
Among his back row partners, John Wormington sniped continuously to win any loose ball whilst Davies supported any black and white runner.
Fly half Heath had to leave the pitch with an ankle injury which caused a reshuffle in the back line as debutant Sam Gladwin made an immediate impact from the wing with a penalty kick to stretch the lead to 10-0 at half time.
Although Redditch continued their fine work after the restart, they fell victim to their own attacking endeavours when a promising backs move was intercepted by the Pershore winger who had an unopposed run in from 60m.
He was chased down by Mark Green who very nearly saved five points with a tackle on the line, but his efforts were in vain and the conversion made it 10-7.
This was effectively the last time Pershore threatened the home side’s line as from that point on they rarely entered the Redditch 22 and were played off the park thanks to some outstanding running and support play from the hosts.
A fine attacking move was spoiled by a deliberate knock-on which should have received a yellow card and, after a series of penalties, Redditch went for the scrum option.
Alekna chose to pick and drive from the base of the scrum and convincingly barged his way over the line.
Their third try came from ground gained by Williams’ attacking kick. Ricky Merritt took the lineout and gained ground before the ball was swiftly passed along the back line for Gladwin to show his considerable pace and run 20m to score on the wing.
Lewis Saddington, who had stepped across to play ten, continually challenged the Pershore defence, whilst James Mills was active at scrum half and lock Craig Martin made some storming runs forward which gained valuable ground.
The bonus point try rounded off a convincing win as Williams followed up an attacking kick and timed his pick-up to perfection.
Gladwin went close with the conversions but could not extend the lead.
Alekna was named man of the match for his dominant runs in the forward areas and solid tackles, although a mention must be made of Stuart Hope who had to move from prop to hooker due to a pre-match injury to Richard Beddard.
Redditch must maintain this level of performance if they are to gain revenge for their recent league defeat at Kings Norton when they host their local rivals on Saturday in the North Midlands Vase Plate first round.