MALVERN began and ended their pre-season preparations with a 36-10 defeat at local rivals Ledbury.

Malvern's first team came together for the first time last Thursday at Ross Road, one week out from the new season.

Due to two other sides pulling out, Malvern's pre-season preparations amounted to just the one game and it was telling as Ledbury, who had played four matches prior, were evidently more up to speed. 

It was a cagey opening quarter but Ledbury definitely had the upper hand in the pack and it was a driving maul that provided them with the first try thanks to second-row Harry Harris. 

The hosts doubled their lead on the half-hour mark through centre Williams and two conversions from Jamie Rayfield made it 14-0 heading towards half-time.

Malvern did pull one back with the final play of the half as Nathan Branchett crashed over from close range after a period of pressure on the Ledbury line. 

Fitness was always going to prove a problem for Malvern given this was the first team's first outing since the end of last season and in the end, the hosts kicked on for a convincing victory. 

Further tries from George Wallin, back-row T Pollock and Arthur Harris extended Ledbury's lead out to 31-5 as Malvern began to tire, but there would be a response from the visitors as Harvey Smedley crossed the line for a try. 

Ledbury had the final laugh, however, as another dominant driving maul ended up in a five-pointer. 

Overall, Ledbury were well worth the win and will surely go into the new league season this weekend confident of a promotion push. They travel to Droitwich in their league opener in the Counties 1 Midlands West (South). 

As for Malvern, they kick-off the new campaign at Hereford.