Warwickshire Shield Quarter Final

Atherstone 1st XV 23 – 17 Alcester 1st XV

Last Updated: Sep 9, 2014 10:13pm
Atherstone, North Warwickshire
By Julie Douglas
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Injuries and lack of availability for this match meant that coach Nick Cameron tested his squad’s strength in depth by calling on second team players to step into the gaps. 

Throughout the closed season Cameron has been developing his vision to have a squad of players all of whom are able to drop into the first team comfortably and the result on Saturday showed signs that this strategy is working.  The narrow victory against Alcester saw the Ratcliffe Road outfit move into the Semi Final of the Warwickshire Shield with a possible fixture against newly promoted Harbury.

The first forty provided little opportunity for either side to get points on the board as excellent defence ensured that neither was able to breach the whitewash.  It was the home side that final broke the deadlock as Tom Aherne, using his strength and height, capitalised on the platform created by his colleagues in the pack to go over for an unconverted try.  The score remained at 5-0 for the remainder of the half

Early in the second half Aherne added to his personally tally peeling around the back of the lineout to score. Andy Redman added the extras to give the home side a twelve point advantage.  In response Alcester scored a converted try to cut the deficit taking the score to 12-7. Indiscipline from the visitors allowed their hosts to extend their lead with a successful penalty kick from Redman.  Alcester added their own successful penalty to keep within five points. 

The men in black worked hard to maintain and extend their lead putting Alcester under pressure in their own territory.  The work rate was rewarded as Number 8 Gavin McCabe, returning to the park for the first time in some months due to health issues, picked the ball up from the back of the scrum and crashed through the defence to score.  Quick thinking from Alcester saw the conversion kick charged down. 

From the restart the visitors built up the pressure forcing the Ratcliffe Road outfit to defend their line.  The sustained period of pressure was rewarded with a converted try putting Alcester within three points of their opponents.

In the final five minutes of the match the pressure intensified with both sides eager to secure progression in the Cup however it was the men in black that held their nerve and their discipline soaking up the attacks.  A final penalty kick from Redman brought the final score to 23-17.

Coach Cameron was full of praise for the players that had stepped in at the last minute:

‘Thanks to those who stepped up on Saturday, a wins a win no matter what...especially when you claim a semi-final place in the Warwickshire cup. Those players who have been training know what we're trying to achieve and also know there are lots of areas to work on before we get there!’


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