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Birmingham Exiles 46 - 19 Atherstone 2nd XV

Last Updated: Apr 22, 2015 10:35am
Atherstone, North Warwickshire
By Julie Douglas
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Birmingham Exiles XV 46 -19 Atherstone Second XV

Lack of availability leading into this game and injuries sustained throughout the match meant that Atherstone were unable to find the form of previous weeks to round off the season.  Throughout the first half the teams matched each other in score with Exiles just nudging ahead at the half time break however a succession of injuries, including one requiring a precautionary emergency call, disrupted Atherstone’s game plan and allowed their opposition to run away with the game.

The Ratcliffe Road outfit opened the scoring when a well worked forward move saw Reece McPherson cross for an unconverted try.  Exiles responded with their own try however the conversion kick bounced the wrong way off the upright.  After twenty minutes, Michael Douglas, who in previous matches has been instrumental in winning line-out ball, had to leave the pitch with a broken hand.  Captain Matt Kent called upon the services of Mark Neale, making a welcome return to the park after a six year, to take replace Douglas.

A cohesive forward attack created Atherstone’s second try scored by Andy Redman who also kicked the extras.  Exiles launched a number of attacks up both wings which saw Stevie Parker and Lee Amos put in some excellent tackles to keep them at bay. Eventually the barrage of attacks wore the defence down and the home side added another unconverted try.  Further injuries saw replacement Dan Brotherhood step onto the pitch for the first time in twenty years, joining his son Cameron in the forwards.  The intensity of the Exiles attack saw the visitors have to work hard to defend their territory leading to a succession of infringements.  Exiles used this to their advantage nudging ahead 13-12 with successful penalty kick towards the end of the half.

The second half saw the home side open their account with a quick converted try before an injury to Amos saw play halted and eventually moved to another pitch.  Getting back into their stride, Atherstone added a try from Andy Burton which was successfully converted to bring the score within one point again.  The physical encounter was taking its toll on the visitors many playing with injuries sustained during the match.  Exiles capitalised on the depleted men in black running in four more tries, three of which were converted.

Reflecting on the game afterwards, Kent acknowledged the contributions made by all of the team, particularly those that returned to the park after a number of years to ensure the game took place and those that continued to play when on another day there would have been a replacement to give them the opportunity to rest injuries.  Kent spoke highly of his team clearly proud of what they have achieved over the last few months with an influx of players transitioning to senior rugby.  Although this was not the end to the season he had hoped for, he is already looking forward to leading his team to success next season.

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