Redditch 12 Rugby Welsh 22
Midlands Five West (South)
REDDITCH ended empty-handed as their attempts to snatch victory in a tight game ultimately left them with nothing to show for their efforts.
A late breakaway score from the visitors deprived the Kingfishers of even a losing bonus point which was not a fair reflection of the game.
The win put Welsh top and leaves Redditch seventh, but only ten points behind the leaders with two games in hand as they prepare to visit Stourport on Saturday.
Despite the vast amount of rain that had fallen recently, the first team pitch was in perfect condition, but the second team pitch was a swamp and that game regrettably had to be called off.
A tentative start from both sides made for a messy opening few minutes, as wayward kicks from both sides were dealt with comfortably and Redditch full-back Will Baillon had plenty of opportunity to run the ball.
The scrums were evenly matched in the tight but in the loose the visitors seemed to be a little more savvy as they niggled Redditch, pushed the offside line to the limit and made some tackles with borderline timing.
The overall effect was to disrupt the fluency of the regular Redditch game plan and force handling and passing errors. It was not pretty but it was effective.
The hosts’ cause was not helped when prop Dan Oscroft, dealing out his own retribution, was spotted by the referee and was asked to take a short break.
Welsh soon took advantage of the extra man to score a try out wide which was converted for a 7-0 lead.
Home man of the match Will Heath at fly-half mixed the game up nicely as he combined well with new centre find Mason Jones, who in turn made a lot of ground, bursting through tackles and setting up the ball for supporting forwards.
Matt Allen played his regular game leading from the front, ably supported by Jack Bacciocchi, Craig Martin and Stuart Brooks who took their turn pushing back the Welsh defensive line. Micky Essex and Clarke Parker battled effectively in the back row.
However, the next score came from the visitors as a long-range penalty kick and a simple cutting line through the centres allowed them to take a 17-0 lead into the break.
The second half saw a much better performance from the Kingfishers as the forwards upped their game and took the ball forward with a greater intention.
The strategy paid off in gaining territory and confidence but the tactic may have been overplayed a little as the backs were getting frustrated. When the ball was shipped wide, the eagerness of the backs to prove a point too often resulted in lost possession.
The breakthrough came from a little bit of magic from Heath when a delightful combination run with Jones ended with a blind reverse flicked pass to Baillon who strolled over to score.
The score pumped Redditch up to greater heights and they started to play their best rugby of the day in the following phases. However, the more they clawed their way back into the game, the more fractious it became.
There were some borderline legal tackles, some obstructions and at times handbags were thrown. Redditch were fighting back in the game and Welsh did not like it.
Everyone knew the next score would be crucial and Redditch got it. Having battled they way into the Welsh 22m zone, they won a scrum, moved it to the blind side and Brooks grounded the ball.
Jones converted superbly from the touchline to bring the hosts within five points into the last ten minutes.
It was a tense closing passage of play and as the clock ticked down Redditch knew they had to do something special to break through, but in the last play of the game they tried that little bit too hard and fumbled the ball.
Rugby Welsh capitalised with the loose ball and scored in the far touch to give the scoreline a look Redditch did not deserve.