Rugby the winner as Evesham edged out
By Andrew Flaxman
Under-13s rue absentees as superb match ends with a narrow defeat
Rugby was undoubtedly the winner when Redditch brought their under-13s to the banks of the Avon today (Sunday) as both teams laid on a feast of entertainment in a closely-fought game that, after an early period of Redditch dominance, could have gone either way. This was what rugby should be about - two evenly-matched sides going at it hammer and tongs, physically fierce and with outstanding fluent handling.
Ultimately, however, our boys were left to rue player absence, which left them stripped of half their forward pack. Without five of their biggest players, they were always likely to struggle to repel the charges of a Redditch side that outweighed and outpowered them. Events in the opening minutes did not bode well as the home side's usual slow start cost them dearly. Missed tackles and dozy breakdown play saw Redditch break through for two early scores.
Finally the boys began to wake up and apply some pressure of their own. Oli A almost scored in the corner before being bundled into touch. Then came another "what might have been" as Harry too was almost in before being tackled. In fact, had the pitch been 5 yards shorter or five yards wider, Evesham could have scored a hatful as Redditch were repeatedly able to usher them over the whitewash just short of the line.
As Evesham began to compete at the breakdown the game evened out and Luke R dived in to cut the deficit. Redditch still had the edge physically as was shown in several scrums, particularly after Tom went off injured, as the visitors were able to power through to restore their two-score advantage.
Harry then went on a long run and was hauled down but good pressure from the home side allowed Darcy to make it 3-2 and then Harry himself pulled Evesham level. These two, along with Luke R, were playing superbly, but a scruffy passage of play saw Redditch score from broken field on the stroke of half-time to go in 4-3 up.
After the break Evesham continued to compete and the whole team stood up well, with every player making tackles and passing the ball beautifully, despite conceding a fifth try and finding themselves outmuscled at the breakdown. Spinning the ball through the hands so nearly brought dividends with Harry, Luke R and Oli P all denied close to the visitors' line. Excellent passing saw Django score before a great run from Ewan led to a penalty from which Harry scored his second to bring the scores level. At this point you wondered if Evesham's passing game might see them win or whether this close game would end with honours even as both teams deserved. It was not to be, however, as Redditch took back the lead after some good off-loads in midfield and then scored a breakaway on the final whistle.
Given the list of missing players this was one of those oddities in that so many players put so much into the game and showed how far their skills have developed that it almost felt like a victory. Despite the scoreline, all 14 players can be proud of their commitment and the way they played. A return fixture later in the year could easily see the tables turned and the spirit of this game was such that I think we all would like to see that fixture.
Teams: Tom; Darcy; Django; Jonty; Kal, Ewan; Owen; Angelo; Harry; Luke R; Oli P; Oli A; Harvey; Connor
Tries: Harry (2); Luke R; Django; Darcy;