Claverdon 37 Redditch 15
Midlands Four West (South)
REDDITCH lost further ground in the fight for survival on Saturday despite producing another much-improved performance.
Despite leaving the field with no points and another defeat to their name, the Kingfishers actually left with heads held high and confidence boosted. The general consensus around the ground was how can a team playing as well as Redditch be bottom of the league?
However, Redditch are now seven points adrift at the bottom as a result of Harbury’s 33-19 victory over Kings Norton which lifted the Warwickshire side above Greyhound.
Claverdon opened the scoring with a well-drilled lineout move and driving maul but as soon as Redditch had the ball in their hands they sparked into life.
New fly-half James Widdop opened up the back line with skilful passes and kicks that inspired Redditch to play with more confidence and flair than they have experienced of late.
Their first try, however, came from a searching kick from full-back Will Baillon as the defending winger was hunted down by Phil Harding and, when the clearance kick eventually came, Baillon was there to charge it down, retrieve the loose ball and score.
However, despite the more adventurous play, Redditch found it hard to actually break through the stubborn Claverdon defending and their failing tackling returned to haunt them when the Lions’ No 7 weaved through despairing bodies to score a spectacular try.
Widdop slotted over a penalty kick from 40m which was matched shortly afterwards by Claverdon, but Widdop had a chance to reduce the visitors’ half-time arrears to just two points with another penalty, only to hit the post and leave the Kingfishers 13-8 down at the break.
Each side started the second half with 14 men following a scuffle at the end of the first half resulting in a yellow for Redditch’s Dave Ingram and the Lions’ second row, but it was the Claverdon wing forward who again made his mark on the game with another weaving run and try.
This was quickly followed by another Claverdon try which may not have been awarded had there been a touch judge on the far side but, to much consternation, the referee was happy to play the whole game without one.
By now Widdop was hobbling having had his leg trodden on whilst on the floor, but the Redditch scrum had taken the upper hand, dominating in the tight.
When a series of penalties were awarded following strong drives, Redditch chose the scrum options which enabled No 8 Jack Duffy to pick and charge and score a long-awaited try converted by Widdop.
Although Redditch played with confidence and determination, they were unable to get through again as the Lions’ tackling proved stronger. Claverdon added two tries late on to give the final score the appearance of a convincing win, but it was nothing of the sort.
Steve Wilman and Mark Green linked well in the centre, replacement full back Ash Mooney threatened at times and Widdop pulled the strings at ten. In the pack, Dave Ingram brought some aggression to the loose and second row Matt Allen and Ricky Merritt competed strongly in all areas.
Redditch are close to must-win territory when they resume their campaign at home to Coventrians – who sit nine points and three places above them – on January 26.