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A Disappointing weekend for Atherstone

Claverdon 1st XV 13 – 12 Atherstone 1st XV

Last Updated: Feb 10, 2014 07:53pm
Atherstone, North Warwickshire
By Julie Douglas
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A disappointing weekend of rugby for Atherstone RFC started with a narrow defeat at Claverdon and continued with the cancellation of the long awaited Warwickshire Seconds Shield Final which was a casualty of the rain.

Early indiscipline from the men in black put Claverdon three points ahead with a successfully kicked penalty in the first six minutes of the game.  A penalty to Atherstone gave the visitors an opportunity to go ahead with a well worked catch and drive from the line out.  Dean Merrick was holding the ball as the pack pressurised the Claverdon defence with a rolling maul.  Andy Redman successfully kicked the extras to put his side in the lead by four points.

As both sides vied for possession and territory frustrations soon led to a succession of infringements providing the home side with another kickable penalty which was successfully kicked to narrow the gap to one point with twenty three minutes played. 

The forwards from both sides battled for supremacy in the set pieces both winning balls against the head in the scrum.  The windy conditions hampered the game for both sides as kicks to gain territory often resulted in territory and possession being lost as the ball proved to be highly unpredictable.  With the clock ticking down in the first half, Claverdon pressured their visitor’s try line.  In their bid to defend their line the Atherstone pack found themselves on the wrong end of the referee’s whistle too many times leading to Claverdon being awarded a penalty try which was successfully converted to take them into the lead.

Dave Hill returning to first team action for the first time this season showed he had lost none of his pace as he chased chipped ball deep into the home side’s territory.  Unfortunately his pace left him isolated an unable to secure possession for his colleagues.  Dave Whittaker showed excellent control of the ball at the back of the scrum despite the opposition pulling the scrum round on a number of occasions however he was denied two tries from five metre scrums both having been judged to be held up.  Hot headedness as the pack prepared for a scrum on Claverdon’s five metre line saw the home side gifted with the opportunity to clear their lines after a period of solid pressure which could have led to a try.

As the conditions worsened, both teams struggled to keep the ball in hand and the knock–on count reaching well into double figures.  With time running out Atherstone’s forwards gathered their strength and power and taking line-out ball from within Claverdon’s 22 mauled the ball up the park to make hard yards.  However missed opportunities to off load the ball to the speed merchants saw that hard work come to nothing.

Eventually with minutes of the match remaining, Whittaker used his skill to keep the ball under control at the back of the scrum and went over for a try taking the score to 13-12.  The conversion kick had the distance however the wind made it difficult to judge the angle.  Much to the disappointment of all the kick was unsuccessful.  A 22 drop out for Claverdon was kicked into touch to bring the game to an end leaving Atherstone with a losing bonus point.

 

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