WITH the previous weekend’s North Midlands Vase defeat firmly behind them, Redditch continued preparations for the new league season as a seconds team defeated visitors Camp Hill 3rds 39-17 on Saturday.
The match was used to ensure everyone who wanted a run-out got one before Saturday’s Midlands Five West (South) opener at Chaddesley Corbett.
Redditch sportingly lent the visitors two players, as Matt Barnett-Johnson and Carl Platten swapped shirts to join the opposition. Later Phil Harding also came over from the Exiles pitch as an injury substitute for Camp Hill.
Redditch started with a flourish with Matt Allen leading the way and a strong forward drive led to a try in the opening minute.
The Kingfishers continued to apply pressure, but the visitors defended stoutly, before a couple of penalties allowed them to get field position, which they converted into a driving try in the 14th minute.
Redditch again came back strongly to score on 20 minutes and again in the 25th minute when Dan Oscroft made a storming run, only to slip a delightful pass to Allen who fired a precise long pass to Olly Stokes who scooted over for Redditch’s third try.
This was champagne rugby and from the kick-off Redditch were at it again, only for a mistake to be made as the try-line beckoned, allowing Camp Hill to swoop on the loose ball and run the length of the field to dot down under the posts.
Redditch’s lineout was working well and a clean take at the front led to a midfield burst by Will Baillon who crossed under the posts. Yet another conversion was missed to leave the half time score 20-10 to the hosts.
Redditch started the second half as they had the first with back row Clarke Parker crossing in the first minute. A change of kicker brought a different result, taking the score to 27-10.
Camp Hill settled to enjoy their best spell of the game and their kicker came good to convert a good try and close the gap to 27-17. They kept up the pressure for most of the third quarter and Redditch were starting to know they were in a match.
Redditch eventually took another chance to go further ahead with a well taken try on 62 minutes.
The Camp Hill defence toiled manfully and never stopped trying, but the final word was Redditch’s as James Mills put in a long crossfield kick which was chased down by three team-mates and it was left to Tom Piper to claim the bouncing ball and cross for a well-deserved try after a busy afternoon.
The complete list of Redditch try-scorers was man of the match Parker, Baillon, Michael Essex, Loran Abbotts, Stokes, Elliot George and Piper. Mills added two conversions.
On the other pitch Redditch Exiles kept a strong Kidderminster Carolians outfit in check when they had the benefit of the slope in the first half.
However, with the slope against them and following an influx of youth to the Kidderminster side, the scoreboard began ticking over rather quickly for the visitors who emerged 69-20 winners.
It was great to see the return of Redditch Exiles and have a few old heads around the club once again to show the younger players a more social side to rugby, though no less physical.
Man of the match for Redditch was Craig Martin, who scored two tries and was involved with play all over the park.