REDDITCH booked their place in the final of the North Midlands Vase with a hard fought 12-7 home win over Ross-on-Wye in boggy conditions on Saturday.
This is the second successive year the Kingfishers have booked their place in a North Midlands RFU final – this time around going one better to compete for the Vase – in which they will face either Bredon Star or Aston Old Edwardians in the final.
The conditions on Saturday could only be described as awful as strong wind and heavy rain made life tough for both teams and in the end it was the greater power and pressure applied by the Redditch forwards which proved the difference between the sides.
Redditch opted to play into the wind in the first half, hoping to take advantage of it later in the game.
As a result, Ross started the game stronger and took an early lead, capitalising on a handling error which allowed for the only real break of the game down the wing, and a kick and chase into the corner paid dividends for Ross No 13 Billy Hambling who crossed the whitewash.
This was duly converted with an excellent kick considering the conditions from wide out on the left.
Following this the Redditch forwards, notably the front row of Simon Fitzpatirck, Glen Francis and Tom Hodge, started to take hold of the game and forced play into the opposition half, but with every turnover Ross were able to kick back downfield and the slog back upfield started all over again.
Starting the second half seven points behind, Redditch knew they could now utilise the conditions and, without the ability to kick themselves out of trouble, Ross were pinned into their own 22.
With a brace of scrums and mauls, Redditch finally drove over the line as replacement scrum half Ben Stanyard made the touchdown in the corner but, without the conversion, the tension on the sidelines mounted.
With 20 minutes remaining the game continued in the same fashion with Ross literally bogged down in an increasingly muddy pitch.
After continued infringements in the scrums, the referee eventually awarded the hosts a penalty try in 71st minute which was converted by Tom Saddington.
With nine minutes to go Ross found a new urgency to their game and managed to play further upfield, but it was too big a mountain to climb and it finished 12-7 to the home side.
Man of the match went to back row John Wormington for his tireless tackling and balls won at the breakdown.
Redditch will now aim to improve their Midlands Four West (South) position on Saturday when they host local rivals Alcester.
Words and pictures courtesy of Lee Williams.