Pershore 33 Claverdon 29
Midlands Four West (South)
CLAVERDON’S hopes of moving closer to the promotion picture were dented as they were edged out in south Worcestershire on Saturday.
The Lions led 29-21 with just seven minutes remaining and looked on course for a bonus point win which would have taken them to within seven points of second place with a game in hand, but it was not to be as the hosts hit back impressively to snatch victory.
Despite the disappointment though, Claverdon can take positives from some excellent individual performances and, with numerous sides above them still to come to Ossetts Hole Lane in the second half of the campaign, could yet mount a push for the top two.
Pershore made an impressive start and took the lead with a converted try which followed multiple phases.
The Lions attempted to use the wind to pin Pershore back in the first half but their kicking and chasing left a lot to be desired and the hosts’ back three threatened each time they picked up possession.
However, good turnovers from James Williams and captain Charlie Byrd relieved the pressure and the visitors drew level when Williams slipped through the first tackle to create a two-on-one with the full back and James Barton ran a good support line to claim the converted try.
The Lions were now into their groove and led 14-7 after Williams put in an up and under for Sam Turrell to gather and a great catch on the run allowed the ‘chicken’ to easily beat his man and reach the try-line for a converted score.
Claverdon’s scrum was impressive but the lineout not so and this proved crucial in the final reckoning, although the visitors did lead 17-7 at half time after a successful penalty.
Vitally for them, Pershore grabbed the next try after their big runners had made good yards, although the Lions will feel their tackling could have been better as they saw their lead cut to three points.
Not long later Claverdon made their lives difficult after giving away a penalty inside their own 22. Pershore decided to tap and go and caught Claverdon off guard and, after a couple of phases, the home side scored near the posts to open a 21-17 lead.
Claverdon did regain some form and marched their way up the pitch. Good defence from Matt Dunster forced the error for the ball to get kicked towards the Pershore line where their full back kicked the ball dead to give Claverdon a 5m scrum.
‘Polish Pete’ received the ball and stayed strong, palming off a couple of defenders as once again Barton ran a decent support line to receive the offload from ‘Polish’ and finish the try in style to put the Lions 24-21 up.
Soon afterwards Barton completed his hat-trick when he put the icing on the cake to some excellent running and offloading from James Kirby, Turrell, Mikey Jay, Will Lawton and Williams.
With only seven minutes to go Pershore needed to score twice to win but they won a penalty 10m out from the line and went quickly to catch Claverdon off guard again. After recycling the ball a few times, the Pershore prop tried to burrow his way through to the line.
Claverdon were adamant he was short but the referee decided he had scored the try to put Pershore right back in the game.
Just a point down, Pershore had the wind in their sails and broke down the right hand side but some good covering tackles prevented the score for a short while.
Credit to Pershore, their ball retention was good all day and it was no different when it mattered as they shipped the ball to their centre who had been running riot all day to run in a try from the 22 as he beat a few defenders in the process to score an excellent try.
The Lions start 2018 with a home game against runaway leaders Stoke Old Boys on January 6.
Report courtesy of Charlie Byrd.