Pershore 24 Redditch 25
Midlands Four West (South)
REDDITCH scored a last-gasp converted try on Saturday to seal a third successive victory which lifted them into fifth place.
At one point a Kingfishers victory appeared to be out of reach, but a Redditch side with changes in key positions showed a never-say-die attitude to claim a remarkable victory.
After taking an early lead through a Sam Gladwin penalty kick, Redditch dominated territory early on and both Simon Fitzpatrick and Jack Duffy were held up short of the line.
The pre-match downpour made for slippery handling but Redditch had a stiff breeze at their backs which they used well in their kicking game, but failed to utilise as regards scoring.
Pershore weathered the Redditch dominance and when they attacked they looked a little sharper. Fine support running saw them open their account out wide with a try which was well converted to take the lead.
However, Redditch had a rarely used weapon up their sleeve. Having gained ground through smart use of the boot, the visitors took a lineout 15m from the hosts’ try line and veteran back row Mark Broadhurst took a clean catch and was allowed a clear run to score a try which edged Redditch back into the lead.
That was how the score remained until the last play of the half when Pershore broke through on the right wing for an unconverted try and a 12-8 lead.
There had been an entertaining mix of sublime handling, brutal tackling and ball stealing but also some schoolboy errors and poor decision-making by both sides in the first half.
Redditch had failed to take advantage of the elements in that first half and the writing appeared to be on the wall within a minute of the restart when a stray Redditch clearance kick was held up in the wind and allowed Pershore to counter-attack to fine effect for their third try which was converted.
The home attack seemed more potent but Redditch were tackling well and blunting the Pershore progress.
The Redditch pack slowly began to take centre stage – a safer option than kicking – and the Kingfishers ground down their opponents with driving mauls which gained territory and momentum.
Having got into the home 22m, they set up a series of drives which eventually gave Lewis Saddington the room to break through and score between the posts before Gladwin converted to make it 19-15.
There were some heroic moments, not least when Gladwin – already nursing a damaged shoulder – managed to chase down and tackle his opposing winger and save what would have been a certain try between the posts.
However, Pershore did score from the ensuing lineout, but importantly it was out of the range of their kicker and the score stood at 24-15 deep into the last quarter.
The Redditch pack again built up a head of steam and their pressure forced Pershore into conceding a series of penalties, one of which was within range for Gladwin to bag the three points and put Redditch within one converted score of victory.
The deciding try illustrated the black and white nature of the game. Gareth Davies and Craig Martin broke clear on the right wing and a clever series of passes saw them with one man to beat.
The last pass was intercepted by a defender running back with them, but his clearance kick could only find the eager arms of Williams who gained 40m before feeding Gladwin, who managed to weave his battered body to the try-line and then recover in time to slot over the crucial kick to snatch victory.
Every man in the Redditch side played a tremendous role in the victory which put any lingering relegation fears to bed.
Gladwin scored 15 points, James Mills and Saddington controlled the pace of the game at half back, centres Davies and Mark Green tackled solidly and Bryn Williams counter-attacked with purpose, but the prop-heavy pack was pivotal in this win with man of the match Pete Hunt outstanding.
Redditch return to league action on March 25 at home to Stoke Old Boys.