Claverdon 38 Coventry Welsh 6
Midlands Four West (South)
THE PERFORMANCE was far from perfect but Claverdon did more than enough to earn their fourth successive win and maintain their 100 per cent start to the league season on Saturday, writes James Williams.
The victory leaves the Lions second in the table heading into Saturday’s visit to third placed Evesham, which promises to be a keenly contested affair.
Claverdon went into this game following a scrappy performance the week before and dug deep to win again, but were once more their own worst enemy.
Twice they were reduced to 14 men and poor discipline and decision-making in key areas of the park could quite possibly have seen the final scoreline be a lot closer than it was.
The first score came courtesy of some strong running from prop Mark Tilson. Successive phases dragged the Welsh defence left and then right and, with an overlap out wide, Tilson ran over the Welsh fly-half and with a strong right arm fended off the covering defender to score to the right of the posts. Doz Ward was successful with the conversion.
Claverdon’s eagerness at the breakdown and their energy to rush in defence was preventing any momentum for Welsh, but silly penalties after heavy pressure allowed Welsh to collect their thoughts and nudge the resulting penalties for an attacking lineout.
Claverdon, however, extended their lead following a break from fly-half James Williams who was supported by Conor Smith on the wing. The ball was recycled quickly and Tilson found himself wrestling over from close range. Ward again added the two.
Tilson now had two tries in the game, which is surprising considering he was the only player not to score in the ‘Invincibles’ year.
When the Lions were in possession, they were clearly too much for the Welsh side, however it was a question of retaining possession.
When Welsh had the ball they were often forced to kick which is again credit to the Claverdon defence. Following two unsuccessful kicks to the corner from penalties, Claverdon were awarded a third which Ward comfortably slotted to make it 17-0 to the home side at half time.
Further infringements in the second half allowed Welsh to claw back some momentum and they were successful with a couple of penalty attempts to reduce the deficit to 17-6.
The last 15 fminutes produced Claverdon’s best rugby. The ball was moved with pace and precision and most importantly the infringements at the breakdown had stopped.
James Barton scored a wonderful solo effort, returning the ball from deep and bursting through a number of tackles before sliding under the posts. Ward maintained his perfect record with the boot.
The bonus point was secured from a perfectly executed first phase move which allowed blindside winger Tim Westmacott to ghost through the defence and, after drawing the full back unselfishly, he passed to other winger Tom Johnson to race around under the posts before Ward added two more.
Man of the match Barton added his second try when good hands created an overlap and he dotted down in the corner. Ward rather fittingly knocked over the conversion with the final kick of the game to take his tally to 13 with five successful kicks from five.