Birmingham Exiles 5, Ledbury 31.

LEDBURY continued their excellent start to the season with their ninth consecutive win and their sixth in Midlands Four West (South).

Their bonus-point victory over a spirited Birmingham Exiles team saw them maintain their lead over second-placed Old Wheatleyans and extend it over Manor Park in third. Although the visitors led from the second minute when winger Kit Smith scored in the right-hand corner after a well-crafted move from the backs, converted by Ben Smith, they could not capitalise on their initial dominance.

They went close three times in the first 10 minutes with centre Smith tearing holes in the home defence, but could not convert the attacking positions into tries.

While Exiles never really threatened the Ledbury try-line, the visitors were not able to pull away to establish a winning lead in the first-half.

Nevertheless when they turned round at the interval, they had the benefit of a strong wing and a slope.

The visiting half-back pair of Nick Panniers and Charlie Hiram ensured the majority of the play was in the Exiles half.

It seemed that Ledbury might go on to dominate when full-back Jamie Rayfield ran a good line to score near the posts with Smith converting just five minutes after the break.

But the home forwards made sure there was a constant flow of ball to keep them in the game.

Smith stretched Ledbury’s lead to 17-0 with a 60th-minute penalty.

But Exiles hit back with an unconverted try almost immediately following an injury to centre Tom Houlbrooke who impressed in his first game of the season.

Skipper-for-the-day Joe Hill sealed victory with a bulldozing try after 73 minutes. Smith added his third conversion.

The bonus point was sealed when Rayfield scored his second of the match and 10th of the season to finish off a flowing move.

Attention now turns to the third round of the Midlands section of the Junior Vase tomorrow (ko 2.15pm) when Ledbury host Telford Hornets in a game between two teams with 100 per cent league records for the season.

It is hoped that another large crowd will support the team for this important match.