Redditch 17 Burbage 60
Midlands Four West (South)
REDDITCH remain rooted to the foot of the table despite a valiant effort against leaders Burbage who maintained their 100 per cent record after 11 matches thanks to an ultimately convincing victory on Saturday.
Playing the league leaders as the first game after the seasonal break was never going to be easy, but Redditch started as if it were they who were top of the pile.
Dominating the opening phases, the Kingfishers played with purpose and determination. Will Baillon had a couple of his customary mazy runs, Nathan Marthews gained valuable ground and much of the play was on or around the Burbage 5m line.
Flanker Matt Allen was held up over the line and Will James went close to breaking the deadlock but it was James Mills who eventually slipped through the defensive wall to open the scoring.
If the Leicestershire side had come for a stroll, they now realised they were going to have to up their game, and they did just that.
For the remaining half an hour of the first half, honours were equal, the forward battle was well matched, Redditch had the edge in the scrums and each set of backs had opportunities to shine, but it was Burbage who shone brightest.
A failed tackle, a misdirected kick, an overlap and the visitors were through, whereas when Burbage made errors Redditch were not quite sharp enough to take full advantage, so what had started brightly faded to a 24-5 deficit at the break.
The second half was not helped by a succession of injuries and enforced replacements for the home side and the balance of their play was disrupted as players were found wanting in terms of positioning.
Burbage smelt blood and went for the kill and any thoughts of a home revival were quashed early in the second half by two more tries.
However, from the next kick-off Redditch pounced on an error, Josh Kearney punched a big hole through the Burbage back line, the ball was spun wide and Allen took it the last 25m to the line.
A Redditch win might not be on the cards, but thoughts of a try-scoring bonus point came to mind.
Burbage continued to apply the pressure though, picking out the Redditch weak spots and capitalising on them and two more tries were added before the Kingfishers were able to score their third try.
This time Kearney took a perfect line to skip under the posts untouched but Redditch were unable to add to this and finished the game empty-handed.
Burbage scored a couple more tries late on but by now home heads were down and backs were having to supplement the pack.
Redditch overall, however, played well. They attacked with purpose, maybe lacking a little of the surprise element. Will Heath sparkled at times at full-back, Jack Bacciocchi had a strong game up front and Steve Wilman was solid at fly-half.
The defence was generally sound but too often the one-on-one tackles let them down. Against lesser opposition, Redditch would have won and probably will win having not played as well as this.
Realistically, Redditch are going to have to win at least four of their remaining nine games to stand a chance of survival. That task is well within them – they are simply going to have to play at their best more often – starting with Saturday’s visit to third-placed Claverdon.