Claverdon 48 Five Ways Old Edwardians 0
Midlands Four West (South)
A PACKED vice-presidents crowd got their money’s worth as the Lions scored eight tries without reply to secure a commanding victory on Saturday, writes Charlie Byrd.
The Lions’ club captain James Williams got given the all-clear from a shoulder injury to reclaim the No 10 shirt but, with doubts over whether he would be able to last the 80 minutes, the captaincy stayed with Charlie Byrd.
In front of a crowd of around 200 the hosts took an early lead when a penalty was won for holding on around the halfway line and Harry Cox kicked the ball into touch to have a lineout between the 10 and 22.
Steve Grimsley hit the back of the lineout and the Lions’ forwards set up a driving maul. Claverdon blitzed their opposite numbers with devastating power and within seconds were within a few metres of the try line where the maul was dragged down. A couple of pick and goes from the Claverdon forwards with unbelievable speed of rucking provided Connor Smith with the ball on a plate, allowing the ball to be spun wide and Liam O’Sullivan to touch down in the corner.
It only took one more possession and a couple of minutes to touch down again as, very similar to the first try, the Claverdon pack was showing some real class around the park.
A combination of hard running and speed of rucking allowed the backs to have clean ball which was then spun wide, but this time the overlap was used on the opposite wing where Tom Johnson got himself on the scoresheet after beating a couple of defenders to make it 12-0 after just four minutes.
The front row of Dave Curruthers, Grimsley and Mark Tilson were dominating at scrum time and doing their jobs superbly in the lineout, allowing the rest of the team to have an easy day at the office.
Blindside flanker Tris Hurd showed his fitness despite his increasing years as he made what seemed to be every other tackle and earned himself the man of the match award.
Smith, although having some of the cleanest and fastest ball he will ever encounter, made very few mistakes and bossed the pack brilliantly, and his chip over the Five Ways defence from the back of a ruck was a piece of individual brilliance after he heard the call from Tom Johnson, which resulted in Claverdon’s fifth try and Johnson’s second of the afternoon.
Returning club captain and fly half James Williams controlled the ball with ease and punished Five Ways on almost every visit to the 22 with excellent decision-making and good use of the overlaps and he also scored the Lions’ fourth try after beating a couple of defenders and forcing himself over the line around 20 minutes into play to secure the bonus point in the process.
Centres Seru Rokituiloma and Nick Marsh were solid and missed no tackles and made metres when given the ball. Marsh put O’Sullivan in for his second and Claverdon’s third try after some fast hands.
Cox scored Claverdon’s sixth try of the first half after an attacking scrum saw the ball get shipped to the backs who performed a simple move, with Cox coming on to the ball at pace and three side-steps later he somehow got himself over the line with three members of the opposition wrapped around him, showing real strength and good finishing skills.
The opening 20 minutes of the second half saw the visitors show some battling qualities and they put Claverdon under severe pressure, but the hosts’ defence stayed strong to ensure a clean sheet was kept.
Claverdon replacements Tommy Williams, Tom Sparkes and Chris Lowe all made an impact off the bench as Williams filling in at full back got a chance to show off his twinkle toes and pace when the ball came his way.
Lowe and Sparkes on the other hand took the more direct approach, running over players rather than around, but to equal effect and both players made several metres with the ball in hand.
Claverdon’s first try of the half arrived in the 65th minute when an attacking lineout saw the Lions’ pack drive their opposition over the line from 30 metres out and eventually Grimsley appeared with the ball to claim the try.
The game then became very physical and it was a good job the end was near as several unsavoury incidents occurred, one of which saw Rokituiloma sin-binned.
The final try arrived late on when Byrd opted for the quick tap and Lowe ran hard and fast running through a total of three players before crashing over the line between the posts before Cox converted.
The Lions are very handily placed in third spot having won five of their six matches and a tough run of league fixtures begins with a trip to Kings Norton on November 15.