SPIRITED opposition made life difficult for Malvern but they emerged with a bonus point from a 24-3 win at Southam.

The victory kept Malvern third in Midlands Two West (South) with games in hand on the top two.

The day did not start well for Southam with Alex Sayers suffering a bad ankle injury in the warm-up, leading to a delayed start.

But the setback seemed to galvanise the hosts in a stop-start encounter as Malvern suffered with ill-discipline and poor handling.

Malvern gave away a string of penalties but remained 10-3 in front at half-time thanks to tries from John Wills and Tom Hale.

They both came off the back of powerful drives and recycling that stretched Southam on both sides of the pitch before their line was breached.

Malvern defended well to keep Southam at bay in the second period but were still guilty of giving away too many penalties.

The visitors needed the bonus point and John Clark took them a step closer with a strong run in under the posts with Dan Batty converting.

Joe Murcott's effort was ruled out after the referee did not spot the grounding.

But the same player forced his way over to secure the try bonus with the last play of the game and Batty added the extras.

Malvern showed a steely desire ahead of Saturday's much-anticipated RFU Midlands Intermediate Cup semi-final with Leek at Spring Lane.

Meanwhile, Midland Four West (South) leaders Upton were shocked in their home derby with fourth-placed Bromyard, going down 15-12.

Upton host Pershore on Saturday.

Malvern colts lost 39-21 at home to Kings Norton in their return to action after the festive break.

Raffaello Cossali-Francis scored a try and converted before Malvern hit back from 39-7 down.

A penalty try and Will Hughes' converted effort pulled them closer.