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Malvern Fall to League Leaders

Old Laurentians 36 - 14 Malvern

Last Updated: Mar 30, 2015 08:03pm
Malvern, Malvern Hills
By Peter Woods
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Malvern travelled to Rugby to face unbeaten league leaders Old Laurentians and played their part in an enthralling game. Playing into a strong wind in the first half, Malvern were forced to defend as the hosts used the elements to advantage, with their well-drilled backs running the ball continuously and forcing some herculean defence from the Spring Lane men. Despite this, Malvern still tried to play their own trade mark running game, which included a couple of fine runs from winger Liam Roleston, the second of which brought an amazing try-saving tackle from the home left winger, who sprinted across field to halt Roleston inches from the line. Just before that, OLs had gone ahead with a try as they finally breached the Malvern defence and they finished the half strongly, bringing a fine tackle from Conor Giggle to stop a second try. However, as they continued to test the Malvern defence they won a penalty just on half time to stretch their lead to ten points to nil.

With the wind now at their backs, Malvern could feel that they now had the upper hand and that a ten point gap was comfortably within their sights. They had to juggle the replacements as both Stuart Clarke and Adam Dixon were injured, Ollie Rayner replacing the standoff and Roleston moving into the back row. Malvern put in some fine attacking moves but a mixture of over elaboration, rushed passes and good OLs defence meant that they were unable to breech the home line. Ben King was sin binned, Laurie Essenhigh went on in place of Giggle as the back line was again forced to change around and OLs pressure eventually ended in a converted try. Malvern again went on to the offensive, but were unlucky to see a pass intercepted to give the Fenley Field side a soft score. This signalled a “tails up” period for OLs who then turned up the heat with some blistering pace, ending with another try, giving them the bonus point.  Malvern, however, are nothing if not resolute, and they responded with a drive deep into the home 22. They won a penalty, plus another 10 metres as someone spoke out of turn to the referee, and Essenhigh showed his speed of thought and movement by taking a quick tap and burrowing over for Malvern’s first score, King converting. OLs were quick to respond and put Malvern under a lot of pressure to finally score again, but Malvern showed their spirit again, running the ball and passing well across the back line for Essenhigh to again go over to score and King to convert once again.

Malvern Director of Rugby David Irish, who had made a rare on-field appearance to showcase his hooking skills, was disappointed with the loss but felt that there was no disgrace in being beaten by a side which was better overall. “We have to have a measure of what is needed to win this league and today’s game and those against Newbold have shown us what is required. I’m proud of the lads and the way they didn’t give up playing the Malvern way today and the season has delivered a fourth place position. As our target at the beginning was a top six finish we can be fairly satisfied with our performance overall as we rebuild and aim for promotion next year. We now finish the league campaign in two weeks time against Old Leamingtonians, who are already relegated and look to provide a big Spring Lane crowd with a sparkling performance.”

Malvern are still awaiting a date for their North Midlands Shield semi-final away to Bridgnorth. The Shropshire side are in the national semi-final of the Intermediate Cup and have two more league games to play. Until the outcome of the Cup match is known, they can’t provide a date, as Cup and League take precedence over the North Midlands Shield. Irish hopes to arrange a friendly or two to keep the Malvern side in form for the Shield match. 

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