Atherstone 57, Alcester 3

UNDERSTRENGTH Alcester were no match for title-chasing Atherstone in the Midlands Division Four West (South) on Saturday.

An already injury-ravaged squad were dealt a triple blow of withdrawalsin the run up to the game.

That meant the visitors travelled with only 16 players and lost their scrum-half to injury after just quarter of an hour.

The home side, lying second in the table and on a particularly good run of form in recent weeks, were far too strong for the young King’s Coughton side and restricted Alcester’s scoring opportunities to a single Tom Alder penalty.

In a further setback, last season’s young player of the year Chris Walmsley has suffered a recurrence of a previous knee complaint and will be out for the remainder of the season.

The Kings Coughton men continue their battle for survival on Saturday with a home game against Barton-under-Needwood on Saturday (2.15pm ko).

Near the top of the table, third-placed Woodrush saw off Barton-under-Needwood 13-8 away to make a fine start to 2014.

Their fourth win in a row means they are just six points behind leaders Harbury.

Redditch suffered a 20-7 defeat at Claverdon. The Kingfishers take on Coventrians at home on Saturday (2.15pm ko).

Woodrush are at home to bottom of the table Birmingham Civil Service on Saturday (2.15pm ko).

l Redditch’s seconds exacted revenge for their defeat in the reverse fixture in late November as they saw off weakened Alcester 27-5, scoring five tries along the way.

With Alcester not having a recognized front row, the game was played with passive scrums throughout, although the match was keenly contested elsewhere.

On a soggy pitch, Alcester took the lead through an excellent finish from inside his own half by John Williams, before the visitors hit back with two tries of their own before the break to lead 10-5 at half-time.

In the second half, the red and blacks lost veteran forward Andy Spiers to a dislocated finger which weakened an already depleted home side still further.

Redditch took advantage by running in three more tries before the end of the game to finish as clear winners.

Kyran Flynn became the latest Alcester teenager to make his second team debut as the young nature of the King’s Coughton squad continues to develop.