Claverdon 29 Alcester 0
Midlands Four West (South)
FOLLOWING a fine win at promotion rivals Upton the previous weekend, Claverdon returned to Ossetts Hole Lane where they secured a comfortable bonus point win over local rivals Alcester on Saturday.
In a further boost to the Lions, they then discovered promotion rivals Upton had been beaten 26-10 at Coventrians, meaning second placed Claverdon now have a four-point advantage over third placed Upton, albeit having played a game more.
The Lions are generally involved in tight contests against Alcester but the visitors arrived short of a few first team players and with a reshuffled line-up. However, it did not prevent them from making life difficult for the hosts.
Claverdon played down the slope in the first half and looked to move the ball at a high tempo throughout but Alcester managed to slow the ball down and make a mess at the breakdown.
The opening exchanges saw neither side gain any sort of advantage in difficult underfoot conditions as mini breaks were foiled by a slip and the mud-covered ball was difficult to handle.
The first scoring opportunity came to the home side when a break from the back of the scrum saw James Williams go through a gap and feed Tom Johnson, whose pass to Jack Johnson allowed him to race though and ‘score’, but he was called back as the final passed was adjudged forward.
Tom Williams got the scoreboard ticking with a penalty for the home side and quickly added to his tally with a neat score.
Michael Jay opted to make a break before sending the ball down the backs line and a one-two between Williams and Andrew Smith allowed the youngster to dive between the posts before he got up and added the extras to make it 10-0.
Claverdon kept Alcester pinned in their half for large parts, although failed to take advantage of their possession and territory.
Alcester, a side who like to attack with width, sent their big runners up the middle before spinning the ball wide, although the Claverdon defence thwarted any attack.
Things got slightly easier for Claverdon when Alcester centre Meka Pieri was carried off with an ankle injury and all at Claverdon wish him well in his recovery.
The next score came courtesy of individual brilliance. Tom Johnson – moved to full back in O’Sullivan’s absence – ran at full tilt on to an Alcester box kick, beat the onrushing defender and surged through the defence from the Alcester 10m line before touching down in the corner. Tom Williams adding the extras.
Claverdon, keen on scoring as many before half time as possible, butchered a chance to score from the kick-off, but Ant Jay’s superb work kept the move alive before James Barton powered over. Williams hit the post with the conversion attempt.
The second half started with a bang when a break from Williams Jnr, ably supported by Barton, allowed the flanker to race in to score the bonus point try, showing signs of his old pace from years gone by as a back. Williams slotted over the extra two to take his personal tally to 14.
Unfortunately for those watching, this was the last score of the game as the remaining 30 minutes were scrappy, quite literally.
Claverdon and Alcester both lost players to the bin following a scuffle on the floor involving a number of players from each side.
Alcester failed to threaten the line for large parts of the second half – due to the miserly Claverdon defence – as for the seventh time this season the Lions kept the opposition to less than ten points and for the second time to zero.
Next up for Claverdon is the traditional ding-dong at Atherstone on Saturday.