Alcester 15 Woodrush 31
Midlands Three West (South)
WOODRUSH claimed an impressive victory at promoted neighbours Alcester as the league season began on Saturday.
In greasy conditions, Woodrush chose to play up the slope and into the wind in the first half at Kings Coughton.
The opening exchanges were pretty even as both sets of forwards looked to establish ascendancy and both sets of backs attempted to run the ball with adventure.
In fact, it took until the 25th minute before Jake White, seeing just a glimpse of space behind the advancing Alcester defensive press, chipped over and brilliantly beat the cover defence to gather and touch down between the posts. He added the extras himself and this seemed to inspire the visitors to a sustained period of pressure.
Patient building of field position by phase play coupled with rapid recycling then generated an overlap for Jack McLaren to exploit and score his maiden try wide out on the left on the cusp of half time to give the visitors a 12-0 advantage with the wind and slope at their back in the second half.
As the second half began, James Evans was having more and more of an influence in the Woodrush 13 shirt and it was no surprise when he burst through two tackles to sprint clear and score between the posts early in the half, which White converted.
It was beginning to look like it could turn into a one-sided contest in the second period but Alcester responded with a great deal of character, taking advantage of some interesting refereeing decisions to bludgeon their way upfield.
Woodrush indiscipline provoked the referee further and they failed to react to an excellent quick penalty which the home side converted with great opportunism wide out on the right through Fraser Jackson.
However, unlike some occasions last season, Woodrush were unprepared to collapse under pressure and just two minutes later, again instigated by another break from Evans who drew two defenders and managed an excellent offload out of the tackle, Steve Smart strolled over the line and round between the posts for another converted score.
The visitors upped the tempo and the pressure became irresistible as phase after phase was played out against a wilting home defence. This time Evans showed up in unfamiliar territory on the fringe of a ruck to soar over the line and with 15 minutes to go the Rush were 31-5 up with a half-century potentially on the cards.
Alcester did not surrender though and showed they are more than capable of impressing in this league as their man of the match Lewis Walker scored two excellent tries.
This was an encouraging start for Woodrush, for whom there were outstanding debuts for Sam Jones at prop and McLaren on the wing, combined with some good old-fashioned nous from veterans Jamie Maddocks and Smart.
Woodrush and Alcester have byes into the second round of the Midlands Senior Vase and return to league action at home to a strong Old Leamingtonians side on September 23, when Alcester host Bromyard in the league.
WOODRUSH also prevailed 38-31 in the 2nd XI clash at Alcester.
Alcester went 12-0 down early on but began to compose themselves after a successful Tom Alder penalty kick followed by an interception try by Alex Chiles which Alder converted.
Things then went the visitors’ way as they ran in three unanswered scores to lead 31-10 at half time.
However, with an abundance of talent on the bench, half time changes helped Alcester respond and Rich Harrison went crashed over to start the comeback before Josh O’Connor added the extras.
Chiles added his second try and Stuart Whitehead and Robbie Parker also went over as Alcester got within a converted score but fell short of completing a great escape.
Michael Nason was Alcester’s man of the match. Alcester visit Bedford in the league on Saturday.