Claverdon 42 Redditch 20
Midlands Four West (South)
THE LIONS built on their dramatic Warwickshire Vase Cup win over Coventry Welsh with an encouraging victory on the opening day of the league campaign.
The opening exchanges were evenly matched as both teams made decent inroads but neither were able to convert pressure into points.
After 25 minutes Claverdon drew first blood with an impressive training ground move off the back of the scrum.
Redditch dominated the scrums for most of the game but, in this case, James Barton picked the ball from the back of the scrum and made a break on the blind side, drawing the opposition scrum half and popping the ball to Will Lawton who drew the final man and passed to Jack Johnson to finish off the try in style.
This kickstarted what turned out to be an impressive end to the first half for Claverdon. A further two tries were scored before the half time whistle, both scored by winger James Riley off the back of a strong lineout, good running from various members of the Claverdon pack and strong hands from the backs.
It was a great start to Riley’s Claverdon career as he scored two tries on debut, both of which were not the simplest of finishes.
Later in the game he did, however, go off injured and the Lions wish him a speedy recovery.
Redditch did score a penalty and one try before half time to reduce their arrears to 21-10, but nevertheless this was a dominant half from the hosts.
The second half started badly for Claverdon as basic errors and some poor discipline gave Redditch easy territory and this led to a try only a couple of minutes into the half, but the conversion was missed.
Claverdon bounced back though and regained possession on the halfway line and moved the ball around with style.
Luke Allsopp made a dart down the right wing and offloaded and beautiful hands from Jack Johnson, James Kirby, Riley, Charlie Byrd and Lawton saw the ball ending in the hands of Barton in space on the 22, with the latter bagging a very classy try for the Lions.
Around the 60-minute mark Claverdon ran in their fifth try of the day and this time it was the forwards who took the credit. Another tidy lineout saw Claverdon set up the maul and Allsopp broke off and started a series of impressive pick and goes from the Claverdon forwards. Chris Glover finished off the job by touching down for another impressive try.
James Williams finished off a faultless day with the boot, scoring five conversions from five.
Redditch did score once more before time was up with a decent try by their prop. They were now eyeing the bonus point and, with the last play of the game, Redditch won a penalty and kicked for the corner.
However, Ross Pollard upset the lineout and the ball landed on Claverdon’s side. The ball bounced kindly for captain Byrd who broke through the Redditch pack and handed off the winger.
Roaring down the left wing, there was only the full back to beat who was covering from the centre of the pitch. Byrd drew the man and passed to Barton who finished off the try between the posts before converting his own score.
Special mention goes to Steve Grimsley whose work ethic throughout the match was immense and he thoroughly deserved his man of the match pint.
The Lions host Yardley & District in the Midlands Junior Vase first round on Saturday.
Report compiled by Charlie Byrd.