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Malvern clinch under 17s league title
4:07pm Wednesday 26th February 2014 in Rugby
MALVERN secured the North Midlands Under 17s League crown after a big 62-12 win over Droitwich.
While Spring Lane was waterlogged, the teenagers were grateful to Malvern College for allowing the final game of their league campaign to be played at Court Road.
With neither team having played for some weeks, it was no surprise when the opening 10 minutes were somewhat scrappy.
But gradually the Malvern pack shook off their rustiness and mounted a series of drives for the line.
Twice in three minutes, the outcome was the same as number eight Max Hill dived over for tries, both of which were converted.
The play then reverted to the opening pattern with an even competition at the breakdown and neither side dominating.
But Droitwich created the next opening with a fine move from right to left leading to a score in the corner.
Back came Malvern and centre George Cox picked up a loose ball coming out of a ruck to cross under the posts.
Jack Travis added his third conversion and the home team led 21-5 at half time.
This position was improved within a minute of the restart and Hill's hat-trick try was a longer-range effort through a fine break in midfield.
By now, Malvern were asserting themselves, finding more space for their attacks and a five-try burst in the middle 15 minutes of the half took the game away from the visitors.
First, Kai Allton powered over on the charge, then Sam Hayes cut through the defence with a great run, showing the way for Nathan Beasley-Suffolk to repeat the move three minutes later.
Scrum-half Laurie Essenhigh, never shy of taking on the defence, added two more close-range efforts.
Travis and March Cossali-Francis added three further conversions.
But Droitwich never gave up and a break out down the left wing resulted in their second try.
Finally, with the last move of the game, Tom Crooks scored a typical prop's try from a metre out to leave the home side as comfortable victors.
The win was Malvern's eighth from nine matches, giving them an identical record to Birmingham and Solihull.
Under league rules, if teams have the same number of match points, their positions in the table are determined by the total number of points scored during league games.
Their tally in the Droitwich match took Malvern to 301, outstripping the Bees' total of 286 and leaving them at the top of the league.
Their reward is a home tie against Wolverhampton on March 9 in the divisional quarter-final of the national under 17s competition.