Alcester 8 Redditch 19
Midlands Four West (South)
REDDITCH completed the double over their neighbours on Saturday and in the process eased their relegation figures whilst increasing those of their hosts.
The Kingfishers, who were 33-0 victors over the Kings Coughton men in early December, emerged deserved winners after a hard fought start to the game.
Alcester are now third from bottom with 30 points from 18 games, whilst Redditch are a place and a point better off having played one match fewer.
Alcester will attempt to bounce back when they make the trip to Coventry to face Stoke Old Boys in their final away game on April 2 before hosting promotion hopefuls Upton to complete their campaign a week later, whilst Redditch are breathing easier and appear to have the better run-in with matches against Atherstone (April 2, home) and bottom side Birmingham Civil Service (April 9, away) up next.
The opening quarter was played at a fast pace and, after the visitors’ fly half Tom Saddington had dragged a penalty wide, Alcester scored out wide soon after Redditch had seen a back row forward yellow-carded.
From the scrum which followed, Alcester No 8 Phil Birks broke blind into space and exchanged passes with right wing Alex Chiles who raced over to put his side ahead.
However, Redditch levelled when a well worked attack by their man of the match Peter Hunt allowed captain Gareth Davies to score on the right and make it 5-5.
This was after Alcester were forced to play ten minutes a man down after lock Louis Smith was sin-binned for not rolling away at a ruck and another minor altercation.
The visitors always had the edge up front in the scrum and, even when the home side were restored to their full contingent with the return of Smith, he and his pack were powerless to stop a Redditch pushover try from short range, which was converted by Saddington to give the visitors a 12-5 lead at the break.
Both sides were missing some regulars and Alcester in particular felt the absence of influential trio of Tom Harris, Ben Hope and skipper Jack Green.
Redditch coped the better and Alcester were left disappointed by their failure to capitalise on having the breeze and slope to their advantage in the second half.
They failed to use their kicking game enough throughout and when they did it was often ineffective. Coupled with the visitors upping the physicality of their game, this meant Alcester were under pressure in the opening exchanges of the second half.
The home side were getting plenty of possession throughout at the lineout, principally through their man of the match flanker Ed Johnson, but all too often they wasted it, which was a feature of the game from both sides in, at times, an untidy contest typical of a relegation battle.
It was not until the visitors were once again reduced in numbers when their scrum half was yellow-carded that Alcester began to get a foothold in the game again and replacement centre Matt Ashby slotted over a well struck penalty to bring his side within four points.
Unfortunately for the home side that is as close as they got as, in the closing stages, Birks was yellow-carded for a high tackle and Alcester were forced to play the remainder of the game a man down.
They did not even have the consolation of a bonus point defeat as the visitors crossed for their third try through Brian Williams between the posts to seal a deserved victory.
Redditch send a big get well soon to Stan Hull who was injured during the warm-up.