Claverdon 13 Redditch 0
Midlands Four West (South)
RUGBY UNION: CLAVERDON returned to Ossetts Hole Lane following a superb performance against Kings Norton knowing that Redditch, who themselves were on a good run of form, would provide stiff opposition intent on ruining Claverdon’s good start to the season.
The Lions needed to ensure they hit the ground running and did not allow the big ball-carrying Redditch players to break the gain line and they did just that as they carried out their plans to perfection.
The game started at a frenetic pace with both sides keen to gain the upper hand. Strong running from both sets of forwards was matched with even bigger tackles awaiting.
Chris Lowe led the way with ball in hand for the Lions whilst Chris Glover and Ross Pollard ensured the Redditch players were halted in their tracks.
With five minutes on the clock Claverdon’s openside flanker Charlie Byrd pounced on a loose ball, reacting quickest to a Redditch knock-on, but unfortunately his speed of mind found him on the receiving end of a knee to his head.
This was and is a big loss to the team and everyone hopes Byrd will be fit for the trip to table-topping Rugby Lions game on December 6.
Claverdon were awarded the first penalty of the game and Doz Ward continued his fine form with the boot by knocking over a relatively simple penalty.
Claverdon, however, were shocked by the loss of Byrd and allowed Redditch to gain the upper hand and the increased pressure led to numerous penalties inside their own half.
Redditch failed with a goal attempt and then, surprisingly, persisted in kicking penalties for the corner rather than goal.
This only spurred on Claverdon, whose defence was resolute and on four occasions drove the Redditch player back three or four yards when he made a charge for the Claverdon line.
After 20 minutes of pressure Claverdon went upfield and were awarded a penalty which Ward comfortably slotted over to extend the lead to 6-0.
The Kingfishers were seemingly shocked by the Claverdon wall that stood before them. With the visitors bereft of ideas, the Claverdon defence did not once look like cracking, and relentlessly hunted the Redditch ball carrier.
Claverdon started the second half strongly. Playing downhill and knowing the effort Redditch had expended in the first half, the hosts started moving the ball to real effect.
Quick hands and a cut-out pass allowed Ward to pop to the onrushing James Barton who gathered and made light work of running around the Redditch full back to score between the posts. Ward added the extras.
Redditch did not look as though they would score and that is not a disservice to their attack, but a real credit to the fight and heart given by the boys in red and white.
Indeed, afterwards the Redditch coach commented on the level of intensity of the Claverdon defensive line.
With Claverdon having again stopped the opposition from scoring a try, there is real hope of a strong showing at red-hot title favourites Rugby Lions a week on Saturday when the top two do battle.
Mike Jay gets the ball away for the Lions. Pictures by Will Barnes. (s)