MALVERN continue to lead the race for Midlands One after victory over Whitchurch at Spring Lane.

The large crowd were treated to an explosive start as the visitors failed to secure the ball from the kick-off and young winger Tim Streather ran in a first-minute try.

Stung into retaliation, the Whitchurch pack ground their way upfield to force a seventh-minute penalty and pull back three points.

After a spell of scrum pressure from the Shropshire side, Malvern cleared the ball downfield and won a penalty when the vistitors were hit for holding on.

Fly-half Adam Dixon kicked for the corner and, from the five-metre line-out, the stand-off fed Ryan Henshaw, who cut a good line to score. Dixon added the extras.

Despite losing Chris Smith to the sin-bin, Malvern defended their line well before launching a counter-attack.

The backs moved the ball well and found Henshaw, who crossed over for his second try in the 25th minute.

As Whitchurch fought back, Malvern lost influential lock Gareth Taylor to a leg injury, but the home side managed to hold on until the break.

From the restart, Malvern went on the attack, going through several phases until play was halted when the referee took an unintentional hit. He recovered and Malvern continued to attack. Henshaw nearly added a third try but was nudged into touch just shy of the line.

Whitchurch claimed possession and cleared their lines but, from the resulting line-out, the ball was worked to Malvern full-back Chris Hooper, who waltzed through the visitors' defence to grab a fine try. Dixon's conversion effort came back off the upright, but Malvern were well in control of the game.

Despite being trapped at the bottom of a ruck, Christian Edwards was sent to the sin-bin for not rolling away.

Whitchurch responded by scoring another try. They won a penalty and set up the driving maul which sucked in a number of Malvern defenders and opened up the field to allow the visitors to score.

However, Malvern then grabbed the killer try. The hosts turned the ball over deep in their own half and Hooper kicked into space, before gathering his clearance and running in to score. Dixon split the posts to seal victory.

Replacement Richard Fleming nearly added another try but had to pull up when clean through with a quad injury.