Claverdon 68 Keresley 21
Midlands Four West (South)
THE LIONS earned a crucial victory in this battle of the strugglers on Saturday to move out of the bottom two.
On what was a day near perfect for rugby – brisk but dry and no wind whatsoever – the hosts started with a bang.
Receiving the kick-off and returning the ball to the Keresley 5m, Claverdon’s lineout was able to exert some early pressure.
With the ball turned over and after a couple of phases in midfield, Steve Grimsley found himself on the opposite wing for an easy run-in with less than five minutes on the clock and James Williams added the extras from the touchline.
Keresley were unable to establish a foothold in the game, other than the scrum which was their only asset throughout the whole game.
They soon levelled with their first of three carbon copy scores. A 5m scrum shunted towards the line and Keresley’s captain and No 8 showed his football skills to dot down. With the conversion added, the game was level.
The first quarter of the game was a scrappy affair as Claverdon’s ill-discipline and errors with ball in hand kept Keresley in the game.
However, the Lions looked sharp with ball in hand and, with the pace of Thomas Williams, Tom Johnson and Jack Johnson, the outside backs enjoyed a fine afternoon with the ball in hand.
Thomas Williams regained the lead for Claverdon when a chip over the onrushing defenders bounced kindly into his hands before he sprinted clear to touch down between the posts and James Williams added the extras.
Thomas soon doubled his tally with a scintillating score, bursting through a couple of weak tackles out wide before darting past three defenders to score between the posts. James again added the extras to extend the lead to 21-7.
Keresley again enjoyed pressure at the scrum and another silly penalty conceded allowed Keresley to pack down five metres out. Their captain picked up his second try after strong work from the base of the scrum to make it 21-14.
Claverdon sealed the bonus point before half time with another silky score. Playing at a high tempo with quick recycling of the ball, Keresley could not live with the Lions.
James Kirby took contact with a couple of defenders before a sublime offload to openside James Barton in support, who ran around and touched down between the posts, allowing James Williams to maintain his 100 per cent record from the tee.
The second half was a much more one-sided affair, especially after 50 minutes when the Lions managed parity in the scrums.
Before this, however, James Barton enjoyed a ten-minute rest for standing up in the scrum, allowing Keresley to score their third try as their captain continued his enjoyable afternoon at the base of the scrum.
The remaining half hour would have been difficult viewing for any Keresley supporter as Claverdon scored 40 unanswered points.
Thomas Williams registered his third try after the forwards had tied the Keresley defence in following a number of phases from the lineout. James fed brother Thomas for an easy run-in but James was unable to add the conversion to his tally – the only failure from ten attempts.
Mike Jay got in on the action with a blind break from the base of a ruck, showing surprising pace to go over from halfway!
Thomas scored his fourth try – a copy of his first – when he latched on to a grubber before diving between the posts.
Barton then added to his earlier score with a powerful burst through the middle in what was, despite Thomas Williams’ try haul, a man of the match display.
Thomas scored his fifth try before Charlie Byrd, on the anniversary of a nasty broken ankle, finished the scoring in bizarre circumstances after nearly everyone had stopped play bar Byrd who came up with the ball and dived over the line.
James Williams took his points tally to 18 with the conversion.
Claverdon now have a weekend off from league rugby before heading to Hopwood to face Kings Norton in a crucial game on December 10.