MALVERN Rugby Club suffered a 27-13 defeat in difficult conditions at Barkers Butts in Midlands One West.
The game went ahead on Barkers’ second pitch in the teeth of a howling gale, which didn’t let up throughout the whole match.
The conditions made it almost impossible to play a passing game, as both sides found out very quickly, but despite this Malvern started the brighter with forays into home territory.
Getting to the Barkers 22 with a series of forward drives, Malvern threatened, only for a Barkers’ interception and breakaway try against the run of play.
Malvern stuck to the game plan and continued to dominate in the loose, again working their way up the field and winning a penalty, which Tom Longley put over to reduce the deficit.
The visitors’ front row problems continued to be their Achilles’ heel as they conceded a penalty but fortunately the wind kept the ball well away from the posts.
The Spring Lane side kept working hard in the loose and won a penalty. The resulting catch-and-drive move by the pack saw Alan Keylock touch down to put Malvern in the lead.
However, the lead was short-lived as Barkers won a five-metre scrum and pushed the Malvern pack backwards to end the half 12-8 in front.
With the slope now in their favour, Malvern were confident of pressing the advantage, however, it all unravelled in the first 10 minutes of the second-half, losing a ball against the head and Barkers breaking up field to score.
With the Warwickshire side dominating the set-piece, they increased their lead to 14 points, before adding a fifth try to make it 27-8.
Malvern had seen very little of the ball in the third quarter, but rallied and piled on the pressure during the last 20 minutes, twice going over the line but both times the referee adjudged the ball to have been held up.
Finally, a penalty followed by a catch-and-drive saw Malvern power over for a try, but it was all too late.
Malvern had dominated for much of the game but the continuing front row problems conspired to defeat them.
The players in those positions aren’t natural front row players and even though they do their best, the requisite technique is lacking.
It is difficult to recruit props in the amateur ranks, although the club hope to have better news this week on that front.
Malvern host Berkswell and Balsall on Saturday (2.15pm) in a must-win game if they are to stay clear of the relegation zone.