Redditch 35 Greyhound 7
Midlands Five West (South)
HAVING lost twice to Greyhound last season, Redditch came into this match expecting a tough game and knowing they had to start well.
The Kingfishers did just that to make it three league wins from four this season and prove themselves strong candidates to bounce back from relegation at the first attempt.
Craig Martin led the early charges with dynamic charges which pushed Redditch deep into Greyhound territory. The backs joined in, only to see Will Baillon bundled into touch a few metres from the line.
This first inkling of the dominance in the set piece was shown as Martin was hoisted high to take the lineout from Greyhound, who immediately gave away a penalty from the ensuing ruck. Ever-alert James Mills took the tap and it was Martin again who crashed over for the try.
As the game settled down, soft penalties were the order of the day as both sides made poor decisions. Fortunately Redditch came out the better in the exchange, only to see a strong attack fail as the referee called a forward pass.
Loran Abbotts won the strike for turnover ball and, after stretching the visitors’ defence to the left, quick hands back to the right saw Jonathon Beale trot over unopposed for the home side’s second try.
A beautiful take from the kick-off saw Greyhound charge into the 22 as Redditch scrambled to contain the threat but a penalty for offside relieved the pressure and Redditch were able to work their way back up the field.
Greyhound had difficulty holding on to the ball and the Redditch back row of Clarke Parker and Mikey Essex were cleaning up the scraps. Another lineout deep in Greyhound territory saw Matt Allen rise high to take the crucial ball.
However, the maul did not go as planned for Greyhound to effect the turnover. As they tried to clear their lines, Parker swooped to pressurise them into dropping the ball and Mills took a gift try for the second match in a row.
Ash Mooney again added the extras for Redditch to go into the break 21-0 up and satisfied with their work.
Fitness is key
With fitness levels building as the season progresses, Redditch had looked to have the edge in the first half and the start of the second was no different. A good break out from the kick-off and a delicate kick ahead allowed Will Heath to win the race to the bouncing ball, only to knock-on at the death.
There was a short delay while the referee insisted Baillon take some time off for a blood injury, which allowed Tom Saddington to come on for a cameo appearance.
Showing the intensity of the first half, the Kingfishers’ pack disrupted the creaking Greyhound scrum for man of the match Stu Brooks to take the five points and give Redditch the bonus point.
Captain Matt Allen was struggling with a dead leg but refused to leave the field. It was just as well since, after a great lineout take by Allen, the pack trundled forward a couple of times for Allen to break out and score adjacent to the posts.
Mooney, with Farrell-esque accuracy, slotted over his fifth conversion of the day to put Redditch 35-0 up.
Greyhound refused to lie down and kept competing to the end, with some of their big forwards eventually finding their legs and putting in some useful bursts. After one of these the referee ruled a deliberate knock-on and went under the posts for a mystifying penalty try to give the Herefordshire side some consolation.
This was a solid home victory for Redditch, but coach Tom Saddington will be taking away some more things to work on at practice. Redditch gave away too many soft penalties and dropped a fair bit of ball with ill-conceived passes.
That said, the locks and No 8 dominated the scrums and lineouts while involving themselves enough to each score a try.
Meanwhile, the second team battled manfully against a strong Shottery side who were too strong and ran out 52-0 winners.
Redditch had a good turnout of players, boosted by the first team subs who were not needed. Special thanks go to Garry Mills who not only marked out both pitches after the England victory but took up the whistle to referee the match.
The Kingfishers visit Coventry side Keresley on Saturday.