Malvern hold off spirited Earlsdon to claim 5 points
Earlsdon 24 Malvern 33
With the previous week’s victory against Droitwich still a fond memory, Malvern travelled to Coventry to face fourth placed Earlsdon. The home side made a good start, attacking the Malvern 22 metre area, but a penalty relieved the pressure. Luke Milton collected from a scrum and went on a run, Dan Batty was fed the ball and he outpaced the home defence to score, Ben King converting. This signalled a good passage of play from the Spring Lane men, who moved the ball up the wing and Jon Bywater picked up and ghosted in for a fine individual try, giving King an easy extra two points. Although Malvern’s line out play was misfiring, and the ball’s movement from the ruck wasn’t as smooth as could have been desired, they retained possession well and the backs handling was sure. A penalty was won, possession was maintained and the ball found its way to Conor Giggle, who drove his way over in the corner. The rest of the first half was a trifle disjointed, with penalties failing to find touch, but Malvern defended well when called upon to do so, not allowing Earlsdon to make inroads.
The second period saw the Coventry based side playing a much tighter, forward dominated game and not allowing Malvern much sight of the ball. They worked their way inexorably towards the Malvern line for a converted try. This stung Malvern back into action and the backs moved the ball to Batty who stormed through for his second of the day, King’s conversion giving a 26-7 lead and the bonus point. Earlsdon went on the attack again but Malvern seized a loose ball and set Tom Hale off on a scoring run, the first time he had been able to free himself from the shackles of an attentive defence. King’s kick made it 33-7 and they looked home and dry. However, Earlsdon showed that they are made of stern stuff, and proceeded to dominate the final 20 minutes with a display of keep ball, not allowing Malvern any decent possession from which to release their backs. The home team scored three tries, one of which was converted, to take them within nine points of the Malvern total, but in the end it was the first half display which had mainly sealed the game in the visitors’ favour.
Malvern had enough in the tank to win on a day when things weren’t quite firing right, a tribute to the way they have been coached and to the players’ determination to conquer. They now go into their final league match on Saturday 21st April against Evesham only 15 points short of the 1000 mark for the league season. Already assured of a home playoff spot, they will be welcoming Crewe and Nantwich to Spring Lane the following week. Excitement is building around Spring Lane as the prospect builds of renewing rivalries against some local opponents next season, and the players will welcome the support they know will come from the Malvern Faithful to see them over the final hurdle.
The team also have the prospect of a North Midlands Shield semi-final at Whitchurch, probably on 5th May, against an unbeaten side from the corresponding north section of the league.