Alcester 10 Claverdon 21
Midlands Four West (South)
CLAVERDON travelled to local rivals Alcester on the back of a break in action hell-bent on taking the bragging rights home and they did so thanks to a determined performance.
However, it proved to be no easy task against an Alcester team who went into Saturday’s match on the back of two bonus point wins having been running in tries for fun, whilst the hosts also had their VPs in attendance to roar them on.
Claverdon started the game strongly and enjoyed large spells of possession in their opposition’s half.
When Alcester had the ball, they attacked with width, switching the ball to either wing in an attempt to get outside the Claverdon defence.
However, although they showed good patience and an ability to move the ball wide, Alcester struggled to gain the upper hand and Claverdon were rewarded for their bright start when James Williams knocked over a penalty from in front of the posts.
The first try followed shortly afterwards when the Claverdon forwards recycled the ball quickly and drew the Alcester defence narrow. Williams broke blind and popped to James Barton who ran untouched between the posts to extend the lead before Williams added the extras to make it 10-0.
Alcester, on the receiving end of a wakening up from their coach, sprang into life. Their mobile pack carried hard in the tight channels and their speedy backs stretched the play.
They were rewarded with a try for their efforts as they moved the ball from left to right and found an overlap out wide and winger Jake Grainger raced in to score. The conversion was missed wide of the left post.
Claverdon could not repel the tide and Alcester’s 8 broke from the back of the scrum in his own half and broke the first line of defence. He was dragged down and Claverdon did well to momentarily slow the ball.
Alcester carried narrow again before looking to move it wide, but Mark Tilson won a vital turnover which allowed the Lions to clear when a try looked almost certain and they took a 10-5 lead into half time.
The second half was a much more open affair as both sides found gaps in defences and gain line breaks were more frequent.
Claverdon were again first on the scoresheet with a penalty from Williams which took their lead to beyond one score.
The next score was courtesy of a series of errors. Alcester took the restart, which was left by three Claverdon players and bounced its way into touch.
Although Claverdon secured their ball, the clearance kick did not make much ground and Alcester sliced open the defence with a simple backs move which allowed makeshift centre Ben Hope to go over between the posts as they profited from an alarming gap in the visitors’ defence, although the conversion hit the upright and bounced away.
The next score would be crucial and potentially match-winning and it went Claverdon’s way. After many phases and an altercation between Claverdon players, an overlap was created and finisher Jack Johnson darted over in the corner for his fifth try in as many games, although the conversion was missed.
Claverdon then sealed victory with another Williams penalty to cap a tight game played in good spirits.
Alcester have certainly improved over the last year and will surely cement their place in this division having been promoted the previous season.
Fourth placed Claverdon, who have won three of their four league matches, return to league action on October 24 at home to Atherstone.