King Norton 27 Redditch 12
Midlands Four West (South)
THE GRIM reaper of rugby holds the coffin nails of Redditch’s future in Midlands Four West (South) in the corner of his mouth awaiting the nod to drive home the first one after defeat in Saturday’s derby.
The Kingfishers, now 12 points below the safety line with just four matches remaining, appear doomed and their fate could well be confirmed on Saturday when leaders Old Wheatleyans come to Bromsgrove Road.
Saturday’s game did not start well for the visitors as, in the very first contact, Ricky Merritt’s game came to an end with a serious knee injury and two minutes later he was joined on the sidelines by Will Heath who turned an ankle.
However, rather than feel sorry for themselves, they appeared inspired, driving hard at the heart of the home side to force errors and penalties until James Mills took a quick tap and fed Will Baillon who weaved his way over the line.
Up to this point, Redditch had deprived Kings a touch of the ball, but once they had a feel for it they too were reluctant to let it go, slowly building momentum into the Redditch half, driving hard and searching for the gaps until they eventually found one and scored the equalising try out wide.
The game pattern was pretty even for the next quarter as both sides competed well with equal passion but also equal errors.
As the match stuttered towards what looked like being level pegging at the break, one small gap was breached in the Redditch defensive line, allowing a straightforward run in under the posts which was converted.
Whilst Redditch were regaining their composure, another driving charge from the home side led to another try out wide and suddenly Kings held a 17-5 lead at the break.
Despite having the wind at the backs in the second half, Redditch were unable to capitalise on it and as the game played out the visitors began to get more eager to score and salvage something from the game.
However, the harder they tried the more errors ensued, as penalties were conceded in frustration, passes forced when setting a ruck would have been preferable and speculative kicks came to nothing.
Frustration led to a yellow card and, as Redditch stuttered unable to break through, Kings picked off a couple more tries to put the game beyond the visitors’ reach.
As the final whistle beckoned, Redditch found their feet, the driving became more composed, passes went to hand and confidence built, resulting in a try for Jack Duffy and conversion for Steve Wilman.
The opening and final 20 minutes were positive spells for Redditch but the middle section not so much. Matt Allen kept his pack moving forward, replacement prop Simon Fitzpatrick added some stability to the scrum and Dave Ingram tackled everything in sight, as did the centre partnership of Wilman and Mark Green, but it was not enough.