Malvern 13 Dudley Kingswinford 38
High flyers Dudley Kingswinford came to Malvern wary of an upset after noting the recent performance against Rugby Lions. The first 15 minutes of pulsating rugby saw Malvern open with a 15 phase move to the visiting 22 metre area, ending in a couple of good scrums until DK managed to clear. With the pace never letting up it was thrilling end to end stuff as DK tested Malvern’s defence, which held up well and cleared the danger. Adam Dixon made a telling break upfield as some quick ball took Malvern back to the DK 22 once more, but a couple of penalties took the Black Country side deep into Malvern territory. DK put in a catch and drive, their pack going over for former Malvern player Luke Greenwood to score and Jon Higgins to convert. Undaunted, Malvern kept up the tempo, running the ball at DK and putting their defence under pressure. The Spring Lane pack were getting the better of the DK eight, taking against the head, whilst Dudley’s free scoring back line was being kept in check by some excellent defensive covering. However, in the 34th minute DK again won a penalty that put them deep into home territory, the catch and drive was again employed and prop Stefan Thorp touched down, Higgins again converting. Again Malvern responded well, making forays deep into the DK half. Putting the visitors under the cosh, Malvern won two penalties in the last 5 minutes of the half which Dixon put over to keep the score down to 6-14 at the break.
The second half began with DK immediately turning up the heat. Malvern lost hugely influential prop Jamie Tsang to injury, whose scrimmaging and mobility around the park was to be missed. The visiting back line now got into gear, the centres hitting the line at pace and popping the ball out well in the tackle. Stretching the Malvern cover to the right, then quickly switching to the left Thorp was again on hand in the 47th minute as holes started to appear in the home defence. Three minutes later, Stef Shillingford cut through and put Duncan Chance in, then the high-scoring centre collected a score for himself. Three tries in five minutes had undone Malvern, although they continued to compete well up front. However, DKs backs had thrown of the first half shackles and continued to threaten, and on the hour Gareth Bown sliced through some poor Malvern cover to score and give Higgins the extra two points. Even at 32 points behind, Malvern never gave up and fought back strongly in the final quarter. Running out of defence they won a penalty and put in two punishing drives for replacement prop Jo Baker to score, Dixon converting.
After the match, Malvern’s coaching team conceded that the stronger side overall deserved the win, whilst rueing the defensive lapses which allowed the DK midfield to run the play in the first 20 minutes of the second half, when all the damage was done. However, there were many positives to be taken from the performance, especially the pack, which won three DK put-ins at the scrum.
Malvern have a rest from league action this week, returning to duty away to a resurgent Broadstreet on 24th March.