MALVERN Rugby Club produced a stunning comeback to reach the RFU Midlands Intermediate Cup final in front of a huge home crowd at Spring Lane, writes Marcello Cossali-Francis.

Nearly 400 supporters witnessed a thrilling semi-final in which Malvern came from 22-3 down midway through the first half to win 37-32 against Leek.

The victory means Malvern are now just two games away from the national final at Twickenham and a chance to rewrite the history books.

It was looking rather bleak for the hosts after 30 minutes as the away side had raced into a 22-3 lead following some well-taken tries and some pretty average defending.

However, with the large crowd roaring them on, Malvern struck late in the opening half with some clever kicking from Laurie Essenhigh and Dan Batty leading to a brace of tries for young winger Lewis Hardiman.

The score was 22-15 to the visitors at half-time but Malvern continued the momentum into the second period and Conor Giggle raced over to square it up.

Malvern didn't stop there and were quickly ahead for the first time after the referee awarded a penalty try and Batty added a three-pointer to open up a 10-point lead with 15 minutes still to play.

However, the away side didn't roll over and they responded with a try of their own following an impressive driving maul to close the gap to five points and keep their chances alive.

But as has been the case numerous times this season Hardiman was the match winner as he completed his hat-trick to regain a commanding lead heading into the final stages.

Leek weren't finished yet and again used their powerful forward pack to force another score which set up a tense final few minutes.

The Staffordshire side needed one converted score to win the game and after the referee awarded a penalty to the visitors they kicked the ball into the Malvern 22 with the final play.

But Malvern were not to be denied as they managed to turn the ball over and sparked jubilant scenes among the supporters.

The celebrations continued afterwards in the clubhouse and long into the night as Malvern moved a step closer to Twickenham and a first National Cup final since the Pilkington Shield in 1994.

It was a hugely successful day on and off the pitch for the club who can now look forward to their regional final against Leighton Buzzard, who beat Newark 27-10, on Saturday, March 14.