Five Ways Old Edwardians 7 Claverdon 18
Midlands Four West (South)
CLAVERDON maintained their slim promotion hopes with a victory at their Hopwood-based hosts on Saturday, although the Lions were far from at their best.
The return of a couple of players bolstered the forward pack, but a strong squad could also be made from the injury list and those unavailable.
The early exchanges were brutal with big hits and strong carries on behalf of both teams and the hosts, with the benefit of the wind, kicked the large share of their possession, however poor execution and decision-making let Claverdon down and they spent the majority of the first half in their own half.
Claverdon’s defensive record is second only to Rugby Lions in this league and their tenacity at the breakdown shone through the driving hail stones as dogged defence led to numerous turnovers close to their own line.
FWOE were unable to turn possession and territory into points and on a couple of occasions kicked for touch rather than taking the points on offer – a brave decision which ultimately led to disappointment.
Claverdon scored the only points of the first half with a well taken try. For the third or fourth time, quick recycling of the ball had created an overlap out wide and this time the ball went to hand, allowing James Barton to draw the full back and pop to Paul Daws to score between the posts. Doz Ward added the extras and Claverdon led 7-0 at half time.
The second half brought glorious sunshine and, with the wind having now died down, it made it easier for FWOE to clear their lines.
Claverdon, however, had upped their tempo and started to move the ball with more precision. A couple of Ward penalties extended Claverdon’s lead to 13-0, whilst one kick narrowly missed the right hand upright.
To their credit, FWOE continued to play with the determination of a side fighting for survival and, although not posing any major threat with ball in hand, were making useful inroads through the boot and Claverdon’s ill-discipline.
A ten-minute spell of pressure did not yield any points for the hosts though and it was Claverdon who extended their lead further.
A penalty in the red zone saw FWOE’s captain sin-binned and, with the man advantage and thanks to some quick hands from Tom Johnson, Liam O’Sullivan scored untouched in the corner. James Williams missed the conversion.
With 15 minutes left Claverdon eyed a crucial bonus point, but a disappointing and error-strewn game continued and the hosts scored from close range with the last play of the game following a series of penalties conceded near the Claverdon line when their scrum half dived over from the back of a ruck.
With four league games left Claverdon remain third, four points behind second placed Evesham, who also have four matches remaining.
The Lions host FWOE’s neighbours Kings Norton on Saturday and the visitors will no doubt will be looking for revenge following a narrow loss in the reverse fixture earlier in the season.