Redditch 17 Claverdon 42
Midlands Four West (South)
CLAVERDON scored 34 unanswered second half points to power to what was eventually an emphatic victory at lowly Redditch on Saturday.
The local derby against the Kingfishers has not been joyous for the men from Ossetts Hole Lane in the last few seasons but this time, with a stronger playing personnel, it was entirely different.
For the spectator though, the first half would have seemed as though it was an end-of-season affair with little to play for as the Lions started slowly and allowed the much larger Redditch pack to carry for big gains and punch holes in the Claverdon defence.
It was not long before the hosts were on the board. With the visitors’ defence stretched following good work from the home forwards, the Redditch outside centre and winger both registered scores due to large overlaps against a poor defensive structure. Both conversions were missed.
Claverdon got on the board with a simple penalty in front of the posts but it was not long before the Redditch advantage was extended with a seven-pointer.
However, staring down the barrel, Claverdon regrouped under the posts and for the remaining 60 minutes were much the better side.
Chris Glover would have scored in the corner but for a two-on-one being spurned which was not his fault but, from a penalty and lineout drive, skipper James Barton dived over in the corner to give the Lions some much-needed momentum before half-time. James Williams failed to add the conversion from the touchline.
The first half had been littered with errors and poor execution of basic skills and the Claverdon half-time message was simple. Retain the ball, recycle, do the simple things well and increase the intensity and tempo to run the heavier Redditch pack into the ground.
The response was magnificent as the Lions scored six unanswered tries in a dominant display as Redditch only entered the Claverdon 22 on a couple of occasions.
Barton grabbed his second try after a switch of play in the midfield saw it open up blind and, whilst he could have given it to Ali Norman to go between the posts, Barton finished off with good strength en route to the line.
James Kirby, finding himself in unfamiliar territory outside the ten channel, raced 95 metres for the second score of the half. One of Redditch’s ventures into the Claverdon 22 saw the ball turned over and, with the Redditch defence committed in attack on the opposite wing, Kirby had nothing but the tight-head to beat and he just about managed to get to the corner.
From the restart Claverdon scored their bonus point try as James Riley showed blistering speed and a heavy hand-off to go 60 metres and touch down.
Williams got the next score, weaving through a tired Redditch defence and dotting down between the posts, before Kirby returned to the pitch, albeit now at outside centre and, following quick-thinking from Barton, a 5m penalty was tapped and shipped the width of the pitch in two passes for Kirby to score.
The last play of the game was a Redditch scrum and their endeavour to play led to another turnover score when Harry Nathan showed good pace in the 80th minute to score between the posts. Williams ended the day with three conversions and a penalty from the tee.
Claverdon will now aim for a better first half display on Saturday when they host Bedworth in the Vice Presidents match.