Redditch 31 Tenbury 19
Midlands Four West (South)
SATURDAY could not have gone better for the Kingfishers as they secured the crucial bonus point victory they craved against the division’s bottom side, whilst fellow strugglers Birmingham Civil Service failed to take any points from their 27-16 defeat at home to Coventry Welsh.
It was only thanks to a magnificent effort from numerous people connected with the club that Redditch were able to get the pitch playable and their efforts yielded maximum reward as the home side moved a point above Civil Service with three matches remaining.
A healthy Bank Holiday crowd were entertained by some scintillating play at times but, unsurprisingly in these conditions, it was the errors that had as much to do with the result, as well as some solid tackles.
The first of those to bear fruit came from Mark Green, whose crushing tackle in the midfield forced the ball out the grasp of the Tenbury centre. Tom Saddington hacked the loose ball on, it was fed back to Green who in turn passed to Lewis Saddington who scored a try that Tom Saddington converted.
It was just what Redditch needed to settle the nerves as their forwards had the upper hand in set piece and the loose and play was largely in the Tenbury half.
The handling was crisp and assured and it looked like Redditch were soon to extend their lead when the ball slipped out of a ruck and was pounced upon by the Tenbury winger who had 70m to run to the try-line.
However, he evaded a couple of despairing tackles for a try that levelled the score after the conversion.
Redditch retained their composure and from the kick-off they steadily gained ground. Tom Saddington spotted space to his right and put in a pinpoint accurate chip kick for Steve Wilman to run on to and slide over to score a try which restored the hosts’ lead.
There followed some frustrating passages when Redditch did not get the rub of the green their performance deserved but they did score another try when, following another solid forwards drive, Tom Saddington easily scored between the posts having deceived his would-be tackler with a delicate shimmy. He converted himself to give the home side a 19-7 half-time lead.
The second half was a more controlled, forward-dominated affair. Man of the match Matt Allen had great success driving forward and stealing Tenbury lineouts, whilst Gareth Davies tackled relentlessly and deserved his rest when the equally tenacious John Wormington replaced him.
Will Baillon gained vital metres with his dynamic running and Ashley Mooney was strong at full back both in attack and defence. It was the perseverance of Baillon which created the opportunity for the vital fourth try as his charge-down of a clearance kick forced Tenbury to throw-in close to their own line.
Redditch turned over the ball which was in turn spun out to the backs where Josh Kearney was waiting. He had only been on the pitch a minute and with his first touch barged between the posts to score. This was converted by Lewis Saddington.
At 24-7 and with the bonus point in the bag, it looked like the job was done. Tenbury had other ideas though and were determined to rescue whatever they could from the fixture if Redditch took their eye off the ball – which is exactly what they did do.
A quick tap penalty caught them unawares for the second Tenbury try and shortly afterwards a dropped ball was fly-hacked the full length of the pitch for another scrappy try and suddenly a comfortable game became a 26-19 scoreline and the realisation that any more loose play could ruin a season.
The closing minutes became more controlled, passing was less speculative and the kicks more accurate. It was one such kick that had pushed Tenbury deep into their own 22m and the ball fell loose at the subsequent lineout.
Hooker Matt Dickinson was the first to react, snaffling up the bobbling ball and diving through the mass of legs for a try which restored a healthy lead and calmed both the home team and supporters.
A huge game now awaits Redditch on Saturday when they host Birmingham Civil Service – with the difference between victory and defeat clear for all to see in the battle to beat the drop.