Claverdon 26 Bromyard 22
Midlands Four West (South)
CLAVERDON reignited their promotion hopes with a hard-fought victory on Saturday which lifted them into third place – three points behind second-placed Burbage having played a game more.
The Lions faced a Bromyard side sitting in sixth place in the table, but only due to a points deduction, without which the visitors would have arrived very much in the thick of the promotion race.
With several changes being made through a number of injuries, captain James Barton went with a side that he thought could earn Claverdon the result they needed. A complete change in the front row saw the return of Jack Yates, Steve Grimsley to prop and Josh Smallwood to hooker, whilst utility back Sam Turrell slotted in at fly-half to call the shots.
The game start with great tempo with both sides crashing the ball up the centre of the park. Early hard yards from the second row partnership of Ross Pollard and Nick Green saw Claverdon on the front foot and the ball was then shipped wide, only for the final pass to be marginally knocked-on for the first scrum of the game ten minutes in.
A first solid scrum from both sides showed the packs were evenly matched at this point, from the scrum Bromyard were able to clear their lines.
It was Bromyard who took the lead 15 minutes in when a high ball sent up by the fly-half was not dealt with by Claverdon and, after a good chase, Bromyard forced the turnover and scored a try they converted.
Claverdon soon levelled the score though when a hanging restart from Will Lawton allowed James Kirby to regather the ball. Turrell at ten shouting for the ball sent up centre Alex Holden who carried hard and further yards from Jonny Gray took Claverdon into the 22.
A quick switch of play saw Turrell feed an inside ball to Barton who cut through the defence and, with only the full-back to beat, some quick footwork saw Barton go in under the posts.
Several exchanges of possession gave the spectators exciting viewing and excellent defence all day from both Kirby and Ed Smith kept Bromyard at bay for some time before the visitors did regain the lead once again through a penalty following ill-discipline from Claverdon.
Both sides knew the next score would be vital and Bromyard sent a kick deep into the Claverdon 22 and piled on the pressure, causing the turnover. Using their forwards to gather momentum around the ruck, they crashed over to increase their lead to 15-7 at half-time.
Now with the slight hill advantage and only eight points behind, Claverdon knew this game was winnable and they started the second period strongly through their backs as Tom Johnson and Harry Nathan linked up to cause havoc down the wing.
Turrell again spread the ball wide through the hands and Claverdon knew this could be a scoring opportunity early into the half. Tight carries from Yates and replacement Alex Haynes saw Claverdon edge closer and it was Barton who doubled his score by taking a flat ball from Jack Johnson now at scrum half to crash over. The conversion made it 15-14.
Now on the front foot, Claverdon started playing with more confidence by throwing the ball around and showing what they could do with ball in hand. Johnson made his own yards by showing his old pace with several snipes around the ruck and, following a strong scrum inside the Bromyard 22, Turrell managed to send Gray through a hole in the defence for Claverdon’s third converted try.
More ill-discipline gave Bromyard a number of penalties that allowed them to work their way upfield. Kicking into the corner, Bromyard were on the front foot, allowing their ball carriers to make yards and a quick switch of play caught Claverdon out as Bromyard regained the lead at 22-21.
With only ten minutes left it really was game on and Claverdon knew they had to play in the Bromyard half and keep them there until they scored – which is exactly what happened.
Strong defence from forwards and backs kept Bromyard on the back foot and the Lions managed to win a penalty just inside the Bromyard half. Kicking into the corner, Claverdon knew this was time.
With the lineout functioning well. Smallwood hit Scott Alford at the front and Claverdon drove on. Johnson then shipped the ball to the backs who gained more ground and aggressive picks from the rucks resulted in Ed Smith crashing over for the bonus point score with only three minutes left.
Claverdon now face a huge match at Burbage on Saturday which is likely to play a huge part in deciding the promotion fates of both sides.