MALVERN Rugby Club went to Pearcecroft determined to reverse the home defeat they suffered when they met Stratford at Spring Lane earlier in the season and triumphed 13-12.
In a disjointed match, play went from end to end as both sides failed to make the most of possession, although Malvern were sharper in the loose.
A Malvern attack was halted when Tom Hale was the recipient of a dangerous tackle, the guilty player being banished to the sin-bin.
The resulting penalty took Malvern to 15 metres from the line and the pack drove close but Stratford won the scrum.
However, some quick thinking in the forwards turned the ball over, Malvern controlled play for three phases before Richard Fleming went over to score a try which Tom Longley converted.
Stratford’s frustration showed as a bout of fisticuffs broke out to enliven the crowd and the ensuing penalty took Stratford to within five metres of the Malvern line.
But the visitors’ determined defence cleared by hacking away a loose ball.
Malvern lost Fleming to a yellow card and with only four minutes to go until the break the game changed as Stratford broke and their speedy full-back Joe Cook joined the line to go over for a try, converted by Jack Young to level the scores.
Malvern then failed to secure good possession from the restart and Stratford’s backs ran through for a soft try on the stroke of half-time.
The second-half was even scrappier as both sides struggled for supremacy.
Malvern were clearly the better side in loose play but the set-scrums were a continuing problem with several lost against the head.
Despite this, Malvern’s foraging back row players were able to stifle their opposite numbers and they
forced a penalty which Longley put over to bring the gap back to two points.
In the 53rd minute Malvern retook the lead when they won another penalty which Longley coolly slotted over and the rest of the match was mediocre until the last few minutes.
Malvern hearts were in mouths when Stratford won a penalty, but the ball missed by a whisker and the game finished with Malvern well in control, putting in a driving maul to take them close before it was collapsed without penalty.
Although the match wasn’t pretty to watch, it underlined the determination of the Malvern team to keep going for the full 80 minutes.
If Malvern can carry the spirit shown in this match through the rest of the league campaign then they will surely climb the table.
Malvern entertain Walsall on Saturday at Spring Lane with a 2.15pm kick-off.