MALVERN came up short in their late comeback at Shipston on Stour last weekend as they tasted defeat for the third game in a row in the Regional 2 Midlands West.

In what was already their sixth away game this season - eight games into the 2023/24 campaign - Malvern were unable to undo a disappointing first-half that saw them trail their hosts 22-0 at the break.

Two tries from speedster Lewis Hardiman and one for Max Richardson saw them mount a comeback in the second-half but in the end it was too little, too late and they went home empty-handed.

Shipston started the game well and were able to take an early lead before soaking up some Malvern pressure in response.

Having kept the visitors at bay, the home team were able to work their way back up the pitch and two further tries and a penalty gave them a healthy 22-0 lead at half-time.

In the second-half, Shipston added a penalty to increase the lead to 25-0 but Malvern began to make inroads and a neat kick from Harvey Smedley found Hardiman in space to gather and score in the corner for their first try.

Another penalty saw the home side's lead grow to 28-5 but Malvern went on to finish with a flourish as Richardson barrelled over from close range after a dominant scrum before Callum Tinsdale fed Hardiman after a fine line break, before the nippy winger chipped over the defence, gathered and scored.

But despite their efforts, Malvern ran out of time and were unable to snatch a couple of unlikely losing bonus-points.

Whilst it was defeat for the first team, it was another brilliant win for the high-flying seconds as they leapfrogged Warley into third place in the Counties 4 Midlands West (South) with their seventh victory in eight matches.

Given the tight nature at the top of the table, it was imperative Malvern won to keep on the tails of league leaders Upton.

In a tight game, Malvern were forced to do their fair share of defending but a penalty from Cullen Harris and a converted Ollie Hale try meant the hosts held a 10-0 lead at the break.

In the second-half, the physical visitors began to assert their dominance but despite their advantage, they could not breach the dogged Malvern defence and the home side extended their lead on the counter-attack as Hill gathered a Dan Sparrey chip to dive over in the corner.

Warley finally managed to get over the line but it all came too late and a Harris penalty late on sealed a narrow but brave win for Malvern 2s.

This weekend, the first team are again on the road with a trip to Silhillians, whilst the seconds host Old Halesonians II.