Harbury (17) v Alcester (33)
Harbury play some excellent rugby but can't come away with the win
The scoreline belies how close the match was between two competitive sides. It was though scrappy at times with the number of handling errors from both teams. Alcester took an early lead following an opening ten minutes of territorial domination. A good move in the home back line created an opening for Alcester's sharp centre to run unchallenged within the Harbury 22 and cross for a simple try which was converted for a 7-nil lead. Harbury put this behind then and played some excellent rugby as they moved the ball quickly and won good possession and pressed for a score. However, the willingness to try elaborate moves cost them dear as within ten metres of the home line a pass was dropped and a home back raced the length of the pitch to score beneath the posts for a simple conversion for a 14-0 lead.
Harbury put this misfortune to one side and playing the better rugby they moved quickly to the home line. Good ball was won at set play in the scrum and stealing opposition ball at the lineout when Alcester attempted to clear their lines or Harbury kicked deep into the Alcester 22 and stole their possession. A series of driving mauls took Harbury to the home line and the excellent Dan Taylor drove over for a well deserved try which was converted by Dave Rooney to reduce the deficit to seven points at the break.
Alcester were a different side in the opening ten minutes of the second half. Their backline moves and misspasses were working effectively as play moved into the Harbury 22. Although defending well at the outset, Alcester's sharp passing and good support play led to a try wide out. The conversion was missed but a twelve point lead had been gained.
Once more Harbury showed their steel and some good work between the forwards and backs and Steve Alford making a forceful break and crossing for a fine try. The conversion was missed but the deficit was reduced to seven points. Harbury had the initiative and another fine move took them within ten metres of the Alcester line. A well won scrum and with the pack in ascendancy suggested that keeping the game tight was the option but choosing to move the ball wide and less than five metres from the line was to be Harbury's undoing. A floated pass in the backline was picked up and the Alcester recipient had a clear run to the victors line albeit it was nearly 90 metres away. This was the game changing moment as Harbury reflected on what should have been a certain score and a 19-19 scoreline. Instead they found themselves trailing by two converted tries.
This was further exacerbated when minutes later Alcester's scrum half sold a dummy from a 5 metre scrum and crossed for a smart try. The conversion added stretched their lead to three converted tries. Harbury though refused to buckle and the introduction of Ricky Alford in his first game for over twelve months, following a serious injury epitomised when taking the ball 22 metres out he side stepped is immediate opponent and then ran through his opposing wing to touch down for a stunning score.
For Alcester it was their first double over Harbury in nearly twenty years. Whilst for Harbury they played some excellent rugby and could have won but playing tighter rugby when the occasion demands is a must .Perhaps the mantra should be one of simple rugby and building on this before developing a more expansive style of play.