Claverdon 33 Birmingham Civil Service 19
Midlands Four West (South)
THE LIONS were without nine regulars due to a wedding but several second team players made the step up and did not disappoint as the hosts picked up five points.
The game kicked off with Claverdon going uphill and straight away Civil Service looked for the corners to keep the hosts at bay.
Harry Nathan, David Shadlock and Ryan Smith combined as a back three to run the ball back with interest on several occasions but the Civil Service fly half kept up the pressure and they were soon deep into the Claverdon half.
Ten minutes of constant pressure and resolute defending from the Lions saw Civil Service only come away with three points after converting a penalty.
With the Civil Service lineouts proving to be very unsuccessful, Ed Smith took advantage and made great yards up the pitch. Quick recycling of the ball by Josh Evans found stand-in captain Steve Grimsley gather the ball at pace to burst through the Civil Service defence and score in the corner. Johnson stepped up to put the conversion just wide and the lead was 5-3.
Claverdon extended their lead shortly afterwards when Johnson converted a penalty from in front of the posts after strong running from Ally Norman and Scott Alford 8-3.
Civil Service responded well and constant Claverdon indiscipline saw Service only five metres from the line. Even the strong Lions defence was not enough to prevent the visitors going over in the corner for an unconverted try to leave the score at 8-8.
Ed Smith was again causing havoc at the lineout and stole another Service ball to go all the way this time and score a great solo try to put the hosts 13-8 up.
Civil Service cancelled this out almost immediately as they sent their big runners up on several occasions to work the ball forward and score in the bottom corner 13-13.
There was just time before the interval for the visitors to go in front as Claverdon again gave away a cheap penalty which the Service fly-half coolly converted.
The Claverdon message at half-time was simple and consisted of cutting down the penalties as well as converting their chances when they had ball in hand.
They did exactly this from the outset and were soon well into Civil Service territory. Clever kicking from Luke Allsopp pinned back the visitors and the hosts capitalised on a training ground lineout.
Ben Webster caught, set and the forwards did the rest with Grimsley touching down in the corner for his second of the match. Johnson again narrowly missed the tricky conversion and it was 18-16.
Claverdon were now very much in the ascendancy and a fourth, bonus point try soon followed. A solid scrum marshalled by Marklew and Ox up top gave a great platform for the backs to show their flair.
A miss pass from Allsopp found Johnson who used his strength to fend off his opposite man and score in the corner. He dusted himself down to convert his try for 25-16.
The next ten minutes saw Civil Service score their only three points of the half with a penalty from close range to bring them back in to striking distance. Ed Smith was also on the receiving end of a yellow card at a crucial time for the Lions and at 25-19 the outcome was in the balance.
If anything, it was the hosts who looked like they had the extra man as strong running from inside centre Robin Hadley took Claverdon into the Civil Service half. Indiscipline from the Birmingham side resulted in a kickable penalty which Johnson duly dispatched from out wide to take the Lions two scores ahead at 28-19.
With only a minute to go, Claverdon scored their fifth try through Ryan Smith as he finished off a great backs move to score an unconverted try in the corner.
This was a thoroughly deserved five points for a depleted Claverdon side against a big and experienced Civil Service side. Claverdon have a break from league action this weekend but face a tough cup game against an old rival Clee Hill. All support down at the Ossetts will be most welcome.