Malvern lose basement battle with Moseley Oak
Malvern 24 Moseley Oak 32
Malvern went into this crucial basement battle knowing that they had to win to make any headway in catching the teams above them, Unfortunately, a rejuvenated Moseley Oak side had other things on their minds and sent the Spring Lane packing with only a try bonus to show for their efforts. The visitors showed their intentions from the start, winning possession from the kick off, working the ball well for a try to silence the home supporters. Malvern then responded with a period of good play, driving back the much bigger Oak scrum and putting the visitors under pressure. Working the ball well, Adam Dixon found Luke Milton who ran in to score and give Dixon the extra two points. Malvern then indulged in some foot shooting, having won the restart they put in a fairly aimless kick which went straight to the Oak speed merchant on the wing , who duly carved his way through to score a converted try. Malvern very nearly repeated the error as a kick went straight out, surrendering the advantage, but this time they managed to regain possession and won a penalty for a high tackle. Liam Roleston and James Tutty made headway to release Richard Fleming for an equalising try, Dixon's conversion moving Malvern into the lead. Keeping up the intensity, Malvern pinned Oak back in their 22 area, Jack Curtis putting the full back in difficulty, but Oak regained the advantage and worked their way upfield once more, moving the ball well to score again. They then won their try bonus when Malvern again kicked out on the full and they again retained possession to score on the stroke of half time.
Malvern were the worse of two very mediocre teams in the first half and the second session deteriorated as the penalty count mounted, the referee failing to spot many more punishable offences from the Birmingham side who took full advantage. As frustrations grew in the home ranks they started talking back, which alienated the official even more, and he seemed to miss high tackles and constant offsides by the visitors. This was compounded when, with Malvern looking almost certain to score, play was halted for a penalty in Malvern's favour. Oak then increased their lead to 15 points as they scored again, although Malvern hit back almost immediately through a Fleming score. The visitors then won a series of penalties, taking them within kickable range and the three points effectively ended Malvern's hopes of a losing bonus. A final flourish, when Conor Giggle carried the ball almost to the line for Jack Curtis to follow up and score in the corner, wasn't enough and Malvern had just a try bonus to show for the day's work.
This was a poor, disjointed performance against a side which, although recently strengthened, were eminently beatable, and Malvern have now dropped deeper into the relegation zone with the halfway point of the season coming up this week. They face a table-topping Newbold side this week at Spring Lane, followed by a difficult visit to Stoke on Trent, who will be looking to avenge the early season defeat at Malvern.