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Bridgnorth 34 - 0 Malvern

Malvern Make North Fight for Final Place

Last Updated: Apr 28, 2015 07:22pm
Malvern, Malvern Hills
By Pete Woods
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A below-strength Malvern, with 8 changes from the thrashing of Old Leamingtonians, played a full part in an exciting game against Bridgnorth on Saturday. The Intermediate Cup finalists, off to Twickenham next Sunday, played virtually a full strength side, whist Malvern were decimated by call-offs due to injury and work commitments. Nonetheless, the Spring Lane men made sure that the Shropshire side had to fight every inch of the way for their place in the North Midlands Shield final. The game started with the bigger Bridgnorth side laying siege to the Malvern red zone for long periods, with the occasional foray out of defence by a Malvern side always keen to run the ball. Joe Wilkes showed his potential with several good carries from number 8, whilst Piers Morell, a Malvern College student, was a busy and effective flanker, as was Sam Parsons in snuffing out dangerous Bridgnorth attacks. However, the home side’s predatory nature was shown when they caught a Malvern up and under kick and countered swiftly for the left winger to score. They soon doubled their advantage, again from a counter-attack after Malvern were forced into touch, but the visitors were coming into the game more as time moved on. After a Bridgnorth penalty score, Wilks moved to prop and the Malvern scrum looked far more stable, giving Laurie Essenhigh more ball to set up attacks. With Adam Dixon pulling the strings at stand-off and Ollie Rayner making some good moves at centre, Malvern always looked to be in the game. However, Bridgnorth aren’t unbeaten this season due to luck. Their defensive play was excellent and time and again denied Malvern as they strove to get on the score sheet. At half time, a 17-0 lead was about correct and Malvern were acquitting themselves well, a fact borne out by the frustration in some of the voices in the home crowd. 

The second period started well for Malvern as a Bridgnorth flanker was sin-binned for repeatedly going over the top at the ruck. However, despite winning a couple of strikes against the head, Malvern were unable to break down a stubborn Bridgnorth defence. As play switched to the Malvern half, Bridgnorth scored again Wilkes was sin-binned and Malvern’s line was subject to a series of attacks. Penalties conceded were converted to scrummages and the powerful home pack finally got a push-over try, although not without some stubborn resistance from the men in maroon. Malvern again ran the ball into the home half and only some desperate defence by Bridgnorth kept them out, but the home side had the final say, not without some luck, as a Malvern pass was intercepted and their number 8 ran a good 65 metres to score.

The Bridgnorth coach Dale Smallman was fulsome in his praise of Malvern’s effort, saying that they had one of their sternest tests of the season, and that it was only the amount of time they spent on defensive training over the season that enabled them to stop Malvern scoring. For a much-changed Malvern side this was a fine accolade, but still no compensation for missing out on a final place. However, the good wishes of all at Spring lane go to Bridgnorth when they face a very strong Maidstone side next Sunday.

Photo: File pic

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