Redditch 32 Kings Norton 28
Midlands Four West (South)
AFTER weeks of falling just short and seeing hard work unrewarded, Redditch eventually got their just desserts for an excellent performance whilst also gaining a valuable bonus point against local rivals Kings Norton.
The opening moments of Saturday’s contest, however, looked as if they were going to be a repeat of recent weeks as a dropped catch led to a penalty conceded and within a minute Redditch were defending a scrum on their own line which did not go well as the referee determined another offence had occurred and awarded a penalty try.
Undeterred, Redditch hit right back stronger than ever and confident handling in backs and forwards built momentum and Kings were soon on the back foot.
The centre combination of silky-running Mark Green and more robust style of Josh Kearney asked many questions of the visiting side, one of which was answered with a head-high tackle on Matt Allen which was rewarded with a yellow card and three points slotted over by Steve Wilman.
The Redditch back three of Phil Harding, Will Baillon and Ash Mooney all had their moments to attack as the forwards won plenty of ball in the loose, allowing the back line to be fed by James Mills and given freedom to attack.
Green scored the opening two home tries – the first coming on the back of clean lineout ball fed along the line and the second when he calmly took a try-line offload off Mooney having again combined to break the visitors’ defence down. Wilman converted one for a 15-7 lead.
Redditch were tenacious and the constant harassing of Kings when in possession often either ended in a turnover or a scrum. The hosts’ confidence was high but, when Kings had the ball close to Redditch’s line, they were hard to stop and from a 5m scrum they closed the gap with a relatively simple run-in.
However, Redditch were straight back in the faces of their guests and this time it was Kearney whose direct style of running cut through the visitors’ backline for five points which Wilman increased to seven to put the hosts 22-14 up at the break.
The second half continued in much the same fashion as Redditch did not kick as much, having lost the advantage of a stiff breeze, but in turn Kings could not capitalise on the advantage they now had.
Redditch continued to snipe and spoil and, as the game continued, it got a little fractious with Kings getting more and more frustrated.
Mooney defied the breeze with a solid 40m penalty kick to extend the hosts’ lead and, although the Kingfishers’ pack came off second best in the set-piece, their loose play enabled the backs to run more and more.
Despite this fluent running though, it was Kings who scored next after another close-quarter series of phases saw them scramble over between the posts for an ugly try, but they all score the same five points.
Redditch did not let this worry them and it was another fine break from speedster Green which created the crucial bonus point fourth try as his weaving run and delicate chip saw the elusive bouncing ball fall kindly for Allen so score.
A serious head injury to the Kings flanker and broken ankle for their full back, together with the referee having to deal with tussles, meant nobody really knew when the game would end and it was in the 12 added on minutes the visitors snatched their fourth try to give them two bonus points and hand Redditch a nervous last few seconds during which they could have been beaten.
Redditch, for whom Ricky Merritt was named man of the match, resume league action at table-topping Old Wheatleyans of Coventry on November 17.