Harbury 19 Claverdon 17
Midlands Four West (South)
CLAVERDON were once again left wondering what might have been as they lost a third successive game by a margin less than a converted try.
Following the bizarre 22-22 draw against the same opposition at Ossetts Hole Lane in mid-February, the Lions again felt they should have taken more than a losing bonus point from this clash.
The first half was dominated by Claverdon who used the hill and wind to their advantage and the early exchanges saw the visitors build phase play well but make a couple of small mistakes to relieve the pressure on Harbury.
Claverdon’s pressure did pay dividends through the boot of James Williams after three consecutive penalties finally gave them an opportunity near the sticks.
The first try, however, went to the home side after Claverdon lost the ball after some good possession and Harbury broke away for their full-back to finish off the score.
Claverdon bounced back quickly though with a great team move. The lineout was won near the halfway which gave the backs some decent ball to attack freely.
A couple of phases later James Barton got the ball on the wing and ran straight at his opposite man. He offloaded to Tom Johnson who continued the run and popped the ball to captain and author of this piece Charlie Byrd who ran in a simple score near the posts. Williams slotted over the extras to give his side a 10-5 half-time lead.
The second half was a different affair as Harbury definitely knew how to use their pitch. Their full-back had a monster boot and, with the wind and slope in their favour, any turnover that Claverdon conceded was punished severely.
Harbury also started to read Claverdon’s lineout which had been faultless in the first half. Claverdon’s defence was solid as always but, with the elements against them and facing a fired-up Harbury, it was difficult to stamp their authority on the game.
There were a few chances with decent breaks from David Shadlock, Sam Turrell and Johnson but to be fair Harbury’s scramble defence was very good. After a period of pressure, Harbury scored near the posts straight after one had been held up by Alex Bleby to take a 12-10 lead.
Just like the first half though, Claverdon bounced straight back after conceding with a try of their own. Mikey Jay cut a delicious line to split the Harbury defence in two but once again the scramble defence of Harbury came to the rescue, for now.
Claverdon started the pick and goes with Will Lawton being tackled just short of the line. Captain Byrd then had a dart for the same result, but Ali Norman proved to be the man of the moment as he bulldozed his way over to regain the lead for the Lions, although Williams missed the extras.
With four minutes to go, Claverdon’s hearts were broken yet again though. Harbury got a scrum on the Claverdon 5m line and got the shove on.
They were tackled short of the line but they started the pick and goes and eventually got themselves over to score a seven-pointer and take the lead.
Claverdon had one last chance with a penalty but it was a difficult attempt and was missed.
The team spirit, as always, was there from Claverdon and there were periods of the game when they looked outstanding, but they were again edged out as they have been on many occasions this season.
However, this is all good experience leading up to the Warwickshire Vase final in which they hope their luck will change.