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Malvern advance in style to semi-finals
4:30pm Friday 11th November 2011 in Rugby
Malvern 45, Old Halesonians 13.
MALVERN made several changes to their side for this North Midlands Cup quarter-final tie, bringing in some of the younger squad players and returnees from injury, but still ran out victorious.
The visitors opened the scoring with a third-minute penalty and controlled the opening skirmishes.
However, when Malvern got the ball for the first time Tom Longley made a break James Southall carried on the move and Ollie Marshall was on hand to go over and set up Adam Dixon’s conversion.
The Spring Lane side were full of running from then on, Adam Billig breaking to the hosts’ five-metre line and winning a scrum.
The ball was shipped to Dixon, who fed James Bennett as he cut in field to weave through the bemused defence to score and give Dixon the extra two points.
Old Hales’ well-drilled pack tried to make inroads but Malvern’s defence was tight and stifled them in the middle of the park, and when they set their back-line off the cover was all-enveloping.
As the home side continued to dominate, Bennett went close but put a foot just in touch, but the forwards took over, putting in six phases of play before releasing Longley, who opened up the defence to score and give Dixon another simple conversion.
In the second-half, with the visitors having lost former Malvern flanker Jay Martin with a broken ankle, the hosts kept piling on the pressure, popping the ball well and moving it quickly along the back-line.
With Luke Milton impressing as he continually ran from deep, Billig again made advances and the ball was quickly switched across to Dixon, who cantered in and Malvern were 26-3 ahead.
As they made several changes, Midlands One West side Old Halesonians took advantage of a momentary lapse for another Malvern old boy, Chris Hooper, to score a try against the run of play.
But a response came quickly as the forwards drove upfield and Jo Baker powered over. The conversion made it 33-8.
Even after going down to 14 men after a cameo performance from Phil Rawle was ended by a yellow card, rampant Malvern stayed in control. Dixon intercepted deep in his own 22 and his 80-metre dash saw him caught on the opposition five-metre mark, but Bennett was again on hand to secure the points.
With five minutes left, Malvern took a quick tapped penalty and Ieuan Mustow tore through a tiring defence to again give Dixon a conversion.
With the last move of the match, OHs went on a kick-and-chase downfield for Seb Rose to gather and score a consolation try, but the gap between the teams and their two leagues had become evident for all to see at the end of a highly entertaining match.
Malvern thirds fell to a 29-28 defeat at Cheltenham Saracens in their latest friendly.
Tomorow, Malvern thirds host Kidderminster’s second string (ko 2.15pm).