Tenbury 0 Claverdon 14
Midlands Four West (South)
CLAVERDON halted a run of three successive league defeats with a hard fought victory at the division’s bottom side on Saturday to keep alive an outside chance of mounting a push for promotion.
The win moved the Lions to within 11 points of second placed Coventrians with a game in hand and nine matches still to play, the first of which is the visit of high-flying Bedworth a week on Saturday which Claverdon will almost certainly have to win to maintain their hopes.
Claverdon viewed Saturday’s encounter as the ideal chance to get back on track against a side with only one win to their name this campaign but the visitors were rocked by a number of last-minute cry-offs which, added to an extremely long injury list, meant the Lions were without a full team only two hours before kick-off.
Luckily for them, Josh Smallwood and Alistair Norman both stepped up to save the day.
The game was generally dominated by Claverdon who had the majority of possession and territory in the first half. To be fair to Tenbury, their defence was very good and did not allow Claverdon to make the most of being on top as the hosts kept themselves in the game throughout.
It took almost the whole first half for Claverdon to score, which came from a driving maul followed by a few crash balls from the forwards. James Barton eventually broke the key tackle to put his team over the line for a 7-0 lead at the break.
The next and only further points arrived shortly into the second half when the visitors won a scrum on the 5m line and the front row of Jack Yates, Steve Grimsley and Chris Glover led the charge and drove their team over the line for Barton to claim his second try, which was also converted.
The remainder of the game was evenly balanced as both teams played good phase rugby and kept the ball in hand well. Each came close once more but were tackled just short of the line.
This game was won for a few reasons, notably Smallwood whose contribution was vital in a position he would not normally find himself in on the wing. He ran through people all day and for a hooker it was an impressive effort.
The forwards probably had their game of the season, consistently winning their lineouts and dominating the scrums, mainly down to the front row of Grimsley, Glover and Yates who did not take a backward step all match.
Grimsley’s throwing was spot on as always and Glover’s all-round effort cannot be faulted. The star of the front row, however, was Yates who dominated his opposite man and had a cracking game.
The driving maul was a massive weapon and key to the final result as all the forwards worked together to make this work and gave Claverdon key territory and opportunities to score.
John Grey’s tackling in the centre was exceptional and the star of the show was James Kirby on the blindside flank. After making his transition from wing to flanker this season, the coaching staff of Mike Jordan and Tom Jordan must be pretty smug with what they have done to this man.
Claverdon turn their attentions to the semi-final of the Warwickshire Vase on Sunday at Earlsdon. Claverdon have been beaten in the final of this competition more than once in the last few years so they will sure be up for this one.
Report compiled by Charlie Byrd.