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Determined Malvern bag Stratford away triumph
10:40am Wednesday 29th January 2014 in Sport
MALVERN went to Pearcecroft determined to reverse the home defeat suffered by Stratford at Spring Lane earlier in the season and triumphed 13-12.
In a disjointed match, play went from end to end as both sides failed to make the most of possession, though Malvern were sharper in the loose.
A Malvern attack was halted when Tom Hale was hit by a dangerous tackle with the guilty player being banished to the sin-bin.
The penalty took Malvern to 15 metres from the line and the pack drove close but Stratford won the scrum.
However, quick thinking in the forwards turned the ball over and Malvern controlled play for three phases before Richard Fleming went over to score a try, which Tom Longley converted.
Stratford’s frustration showed as a bout of fisticuffs enlivened the crowd and the ensuing penalty took them to within five metres of the Malvern line but a determined defence cleared by hacking away a loose ball.
Malvern lost Fleming to a yellow card and, with only four minutes to go until the break, the game changed as Stratford broke and speedy full-back Joe Cook went over for a try converted by Jack Young to level.
Malvern then failed to secure good possession from the restart and Stratford’s backs ran through for a soft try on the stroke of half-time.
The second-half was even scrappier as both sides struggled for supremacy.
Malvern were clearly the better side in loose play but the set-scrums were a continuing problem with several lost against the head.
Despite this, Malvern’s foraging back row stifled their opposite numbers and they forced a penalty, which Longley put over to bring the gap back to two points.
In the 53rd minute ,Malvern retook the lead when they won another penalty, which Longley coolly slotted over, and the rest of the match was mediocre until the last few minutes.
Malvern hearts were in mouths when Stratford won a penalty but the ball missed by a whisker and the game finished with the visitors well in control.
Although the match was not pretty to watch, it underlined Malvern’s determination to keep going for the full 80 minutes and they need to keep this spirit to climb the table.