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Second-half spirit not enough to salvage win
1:58pm Friday 11th October 2013 in Sport
A MUCH-changed Malvern RFC side gifted struggling Stratford the points by half-time before narrowly losing 12-10 following a storming second-half display.
Honours were even for much of the first period in this Midlands One West encounter as both defences held sway although Malvern had the better of the territory.
Adam Dixon had an off-day with the boot and missed a penalty before Stratford stole a Malvern line-out to drive over and score a try against the run of play.
Then James Southall was sin-binned as Malvern defended and Stratford won a five-metre scrum before whipping the ball out for a converted score to make it 12-0 at half-time.
Malvern’s play became disjointed but, after strong words at the break, they came out with all guns firing. They won a couple of scrums and spread the ball wide as a Tom Longley grubber-kick to touch gave them good field position.
The hosts won countless penalties and finally the pressure told as the ball was passed to Tom Hale, who belied his slight stature by beating two men to power over the line in the corner.
Dixon’s difficult conversion from out wide just failed before Malvern continued to dominate.The pack was held up several times on the try-line but Ieuan Mustow battled past three tackles before a clever chip through saw Hale speeding in to again score in the corner.
Dixon’s touchline conversion went wide and the Malvern stand-off’s drop-goal attempt also missed.
With Malvern camped on the Stratford line with repeated forward drives, but they could not break down a stubborn defence and had to be content with a losing bonus point.
They missed player-coach Alan Keylock with a severely damaged thumb and are now fourth-from-bottom.
The Spring Lance club are hoping that some of the injured players will be coming back into contention over the next few weeks and a more stable pool will be available for selection.
Tomorrow, Malvern travel to Walsall (3pm) in Midlands One West.
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