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By Liam Moakes Wednesday 19 December 2012 Updated: 20/12 12:01
THE FORM book and league positions of the two rivals went out of the window as lowly Redditch came within a whisker of securing a shock victory at Kings Norton in Midlands Three West (South) on Saturday.
The bottom placed Kingfishers have just one league win to their name this season but they pushed their fifth placed hosts all the way before eventually being edged out 17-16.
Redditch almost nicked a great victory with the final play of this hard fought and muddy encounter, but had to settle for a losing bonus point, although this will give them heart ahead of tomorrow's visit of leaders Old Leamingtonians, whilst Kings head to Southam.
The heavy rains that had preceded this match made running and handling a greasy ball very difficult but Redditch, who were 'up for it', managed much better than the home side in the early encounters.
Kings were just not at the races during most of the first half but the tenacity and fortitude of their weaker pack of forwards managed to keep them in touch with their determined visitors.
From the kick-off Redditch took the game by the scruff of the neck and drove forward, soon forcing Kings to concede a penalty close to their posts, but the conditions made life difficult for the kicker who sliced the ball wide.
Redditch came straight back from the restart and sloppy play allowed the Redditch right winger in for an easy try.
This served to wake the home side up and Kings were soon on the attack, forcing Redditch to defend stoutly, and after ten minutes Kings' pressure created an opening for centre Chris Carlin to race through and score an unconverted try and level the score at 5-5.
The game degenerated into one of continued mistakes and regular offside situations and eventually it was the visitors who continued the scoring when their forwards won the ball at a lineout deep into Kings' territory and drove over in the right corner.
Kings made changes to bolster their pack and began to work their way back into the game. With 25 minutes played, scrum half Shane Rees broke forward, pounced and dribbled a loose ball and kicked ahead, winning the race to the touchline for a good try which he converted himself to take his team into a narrow lead.
The final ten minutes of the first half saw both teams cancelling each other out in the tight and loose play but as the clock ticked down Redditch broke through the centre.
Jack Berwick's ankle tap slowed the runner's charge to the line and Ben Boyce covering across pulled off a try-saving tackle.
However, from the ensuing play Kings once again conceded a penalty for offside and Redditch easily slotted it over the crossbar to close the half with a 13-12 lead.
The second half was again closely fought and again the visitors made the better of the conditions, pressurising their hosts for a strong spell of forward play which Kings' determined defence eventually repelled with a long penalty clearance following more offside play.
As the conditions underfoot deteriorated, both sides competed well without gaining much territorial advantage, however after 60 minutes Redditch were awarded another penalty for offside in front of the posts and easily converted this to extend their lead to four points.
The final 20 minutes were played in great spirit by both teams and, cheered on by the home supporters and their frustrated coaches, Kings' pack took the initiative to Redditch and camped themselves deep into their 22m area.
Even this advantage did not provide a scoring platform and one great scrummage by Redditch, who drove Kings off their ball, allowed them to clear their lines with a long range clearance.
However, as the hosts again came back strongly with just two minutes left on the clock, Tom Hatfield picked up in the tight and drove over to score the vital try but again the conversion was missed.
This was not the end of a good hard fought encounter as Redditch came again and Kings were penalised for offside on their 22m line directly in front of their posts.
The referee ruled the next play would be the last of the game and ambitious Redditch chose to attempt the long range penalty kick to gain victory, but the accurate kick fell well short of the crossbar and Kings were able to celebrate the tightest of victories.
THE DRAW for the quarter-finals of the North Midlands Vase brings higher league opposition Kidderminster to Hopwood Park on January 19.
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