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Malvern Outgunned by Big Lions Pack

Rugby Lions 36 - 12 Malvern

Last Updated: Oct 5, 2016 09:51pm
Malvern, Malvern Hills
By Peter Woods
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Malvern travelled to Webb Ellis Road to face an in-form and resurgent Rugby Lions side which has steadily climbed back up the leagues after their relegation for financial misdemeanours a few years ago. Now being run on a stable footing, they were nonetheless able to field several former semi-professionals in their ranks who had played at level three or higher in the past. That experience showed both in the bulk and speed they brought to the breakdown and the way in which they managed the game, and to a certain extent the referee. 

All this said, they were surprised by the ferocity of the Malvern defence, which kept them at bay for long periods. The Spring Lane side, much changed due to the absence of eight players through injury, fielded five Colts, all of whom had game time and slotted into the side very well. Frankie Purcell, in his second senior game, was given a rough ride by the Lions’ back row but still got the ball away under pressure, whilst hooker Glen Potter seems to have taken the move up in his stride, whilst Rory Atkins took over the number 12 shirt in the absence of Richard Fleming for his debut. 

The Lions attacked Malvern incessantly from the start, Malvern defending well but conceding penalties at the breakdown, which resulted in three scores in the first half hour. Malvern broke from defence on several occasions, but the well-drilled Lions managed to stifle the attacks with their superior strength and power. Malvern lost Dave Smith with a back injury, Grant Fraser taking his place in the second row, before Rugby won a scrum in their own half and a slick move saw them run the ball in for the first try of the match. With their pack dominating, they won a questionable penalty to the 5 metre line and Malvern were unable to stop the juggernaut of a pack driving over for a second try just before half time.

Malvern’s enthusiasm certainly didn’t wane in the second period, despite an early Lions’ penalty score early on. Adam Dixon eased the situation on more than one occasion with great touch kicks from defence. However, another period of attritional play from the Warwickshire side saw them stretch the lead with a third, converted, try.  Malvern then brought on Colts Nathan Beasley-Suffolk and Tom Williams for their senior debuts. They ran the ball out of defence, won a penalty which was quickly taken and Beasley-Suffolk used his speed and power to drive over the try line in the corner for a fine score, which was well received by the sporting home support as well as the Malvern contingent. Stung into a reply, Rugby went to the Malvern line from the restart and their sheer forward power took them over for the bonus try. However, Malvern weren’t finished and put Lions under a lot of pressure as they counter attacked, forcing three penalties in succession to take them close to the line. The ball was moved out quickly and skipper for the day Tom Hale was on hand to stride through and score a fine try, Will Gough converting.

Malvern Director of Rugby David Irish was proud of the way Malvern had played despite being on the back foot for most of the match. “Lions were a well-drilled side and their pace and power up front was the only major difference between the sides. When we had the ball and were running at them they looked vulnerable, as we showed with our two tries towards the end of the game. With eight players out we had to give game time to five of our colts and they all showed that they have immediately become part of the first XV squad, slotting in seamlessly both in training and on match day. We now have a “one club” situation which can only benefit Malvern RFC as a whole.”

Malvern host Old Silhillians at Spring Lane this Saturday as they hope to return to winning ways. There is a Supporters Lunch before the game, with some spaces still available – anyone interested should contact Dave Robins on 07877 309441.

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