Redditch 32 Pershore 31
North Midlands Vase round one
THE KINGFISHERS saw off fellow Midlands Four West (South) outfit Pershore in a thrilling game on Saturday to book their place in the quarter-finals.
The lead see-sawed throughout the afternoon and it was Pershore who took first blood when their opening pressure gained a lineout from which a driving maul rewarded them with a try.
This reverse sparked Redditch into life and Will Ballion made a decisive break to put the home side deep into enemy territory. Nathan Marthews continued the forward momentum from a resulting penalty before feeding Pete Hunt who scored.
It did not take long for Redditch to break through again as Sam Gladwin, filling in at fly half, chipped delicately over the oncoming line, collected the kind bounce and swerved gracefully to the try-line to make his own conversion more achievable and put his side 12-5 up.
Pershore were given an opening back into the game when, following a speculative kick, a shirt was pulled to deny the chaser the opportunity to follow it up and the referee decided to award a penalty try which in the modern game is now an automatic seven points.
Chastened by this decision, Redditch went straight back on the offensive, piling pressure on the visitors and resulting in Marthews scoring a try which Gladwin converted.
The lead was soon extended when a stray clearance kick fell to Ballion who again scythed through the Pershore defence and fed Gladwin for his second try, which went unconverted.
Three new Redditch faces made their debut in this game and all impressed. Chris Howell at full back fielded the ball confidently and ran and kicked with purpose, centre Tony Sadler tackled hard and distributed well and up front Rafel Jarka propped his opposite number off the park and was strong in the loose.
At 24-12 up at half time Redditch looked to be in control, but they seemed to take their foot off the pedal and allowed Pershore back into the game.
The visitors raised their game and scored two back-to-back tries – the second directly from the kick-off – and suddenly Redditch were 26-24 down.
The game muddled along for a spell whilst changes were made both tactically and due to injury on both sides before the hosts regained the lead through Gladwin’s long range penalty.
Another Redditch try followed when Marthews again took control of a loose ball at a lineout, allowing Josh Kearney, on for the injured Ballion, to storm to the line with desperate tacklers hanging off his back.
This time Gladwin hit the crossbar but Redditch had a six-point lead to give themselves a little breathing space as the clock started to tick down.
Previous flair play gave way to a more cautious approach, not wanting to give any chances away in the last few minutes, but a scrum on the Redditch 22m line resulted in a stray ball and a sniping run to the line from the Pershore scrum half to put the visitors just a point behind.
However, the conversion was missed and 30 seconds later the ball was punted into touch for a home win.
Gladwin, who felt well under the weather at kick-off and played out of position, was nominated man of the match for Redditch, who begin their league campaign at Claverdon on Saturday.