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Malvern Scrape Win in Dour Struggle

Malvern 13 - 10 Nuneaton Old Edwardians

Last Updated: Nov 24, 2014 07:43pm
Malvern, Malvern Hills
By Peter Woods
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Malvern were looking to get back into the winning habit after the previous week’s setback at Newbold and the scoreline will show that they did just that. However, it was the old cliché “a game of two halves” at Spring Lane on Saturday. With a couple of forced changes meaning that skipper Luke Milton moved to stand off and James Southall to full back, Malvern started the game brightly, putting Old Eds under considerable pressure from the off. This finally paid off when Laurie Essenhigh, making his first start at scrum half, made a break and found Tom Hale to take Malvern to within 5 metres of the line. The ball was moved quickly across field and Will Clee ran in the opening score, Ben King’s conversion attempt from wide hitting the post. After Nuneaton missed an easy penalty attempt they ran the ball at Malvern but the final pass went forward. Essenhigh took a quick tap penalty to take play to within 10 metres of the try line, Old Eds killed the ball and King despatched the penalty with ease. In truth, much of the intervening play was scrappy, the rain over the previous 24 hours making conditions very slippery, but still Malvern tried to run the ball.  Some good defence from the home side in the middle of the park kept the Warwickshire side in check, then Nuneaton were awarded a scrum on their own 5 metre line. Malvern took the ball against the head, it was moved smartly across to Tom Hale who sped in to put Malvern 13 points clear at the break.

The second half saw Malvern again start well, but they looked to have lost much of their early shape as the game progressed. Whilst they had repeatedly broken over the gain line in the first 40 minutes, they were now struggling to do so The visitors pulled back three points from a penalty, but when Malvern responded with a fine drive to the opposing 22 metre line the referee inexplicably blew for a knock on although the ball had clearly gone backwards. They then made life even harder as Old Eds started to put some good forward drives together. Winning the ball in their own 22 area, Malvern elected to kick the ball upfield and chase it, when clearly a safety first approach of finding touch would have been the better option. The ball was fielded; Nuneaton ran it back and scored a try under the posts, the conversion taking them to within one score of the Malvern total. As the visitors, their tails up, piled on the pressure, Richard Fleming was sin binned to give the Malvern support a nervous last five minutes. However, some desperate defence saw them emerge victorious but needing to rethink some of the options they have been taking.

Director of Rugby Dave Irish said “Overall we were worth the win, but we need to continue our pressure game for the full 80 minutes. Being 13-0 up at the break was OK but not great and we need to put more points on the board and not relaxing until the final whistle. We had a few changes today which caused a few stutters, but we still took four points from the game. We now have a week off before visiting bottom side Old Coventrians before the visit of unbeaten league leaders Old Laurentians, and we will be training hard to work on several areas which need improvement.”

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