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Preece's double ensures Malvern maintain streak
9:20pm Tuesday 24th December 2013 in Sport
MALVERN’S comeback continued as they took control of the Midlands One West match against strugglers Old Laurentians from the start to win 39-29.
Using a strong wind to their advantage, Richard Fleming’s clever kick deep into Laurentians territory saw Malvern win the line-out and two big forward drives allowed lock Dave Smith to score after only seven minutes.
The second-from-bottom Rugby side responded by counter-attacking and winning two penalties but disciplined defence kept them at bay.
Malvern struggled at the set scrum with problems at prop but their loose play made up for the shortcomings and they stole ball to set Ryan Watkins away for a fine try in the 18th minute which Nathan Dunford then converted.
Four minutes later, Malvern forced a scrum in the opposition 22, won a penalty and scrum-half Dunford put in a ferocious blindside burst to score in the corner.
With the Spring Lane hosts in control, they used the conditions to keep Laurentians pinned back and the pack drove forward until Richard Preece spotted a gap and went for the line to dive over.
The visitors’ backs looked sharp and they responded by cutting through the defence for centre Iain Wallis to register five points.
But determined Malvern again took the ball close to the Laurentians line before James Hynes used his strength and bulk to power over.
On half-time, Laurentians won a scrum against the head and passed the ball quickly for winger Joe Shore to outstrip his opposite number into the corner.
In the second period playing into the strong wind, Malvern battled upfield with intelligent recycling for Preece to finish off with his second try.
Malvern carried on controlling play up to the 53rd minute when Fleming took the ball on the burst and strode through to score, giving Adam Dixon the conversion.
Towards the last quarter, Laurentians made a spirited comeback using the wind and prop Aaron Metcalfe went over to make it 39-15.
After quickly taking a fortunate penalty, their backs scythed through for centre Troy Owen to score and stand-off Dan O’Brien convert.
With seven minutes left and Malvern’s crowd getting nervous, Laurentians cleared their lines and poor tackling saw Owen run in again, giving O’Brien the extras.
However, Malvern tightened up to ensure their seven-try performance was enough for the full five points.
The fifth-from-bottom outfit now break until Saturday, January 4, when they visit Silhillians (2.15pm).