IT’S do-or-die time for Malvern Rugby Club as they face a battle to save their Midlands One West skins in the closing weeks of the season.
With four games remaining, the Spring Lane side realistically need to pick up 15 points to avoid the threat of back-to-back relegation.
Tomorrow (3pm), Malvern travel to sixth-placed Whitchurch, who are notoriously strong on their own pitch, and desperately need to take something from the game.
Club spokesman Peter Woods felt the Malvern players put in an impressive showing against leaders Lichfield in last weekend’s 33-12 defeat at Spring Lane.
He said: “We didn’t expect to beat Lichfield but still put in a good performance, although results elsewhere unfortunately went against us with Old Laurentians unexpectedly beating Hereford and others picking up bonus points.
“We realistically need to take 15 points from our last four games to stay up and we have games in hand over Berkswell and Balsall and Old Laurs, who are immediately above us in the table.
“Whitchurch will be a tough fixture though because, although they don’t travel very well, they are always strong at home.
“We beat them at Spring Lane in a close match earlier in the season so we know we can beat them, but they will be a lot tougher on their own patch.”
Malvern will be without Ieuan Mustow, who has now quit playing ahead of starting a commando training course at the end of this month, but other key players are returning.
Tough number eight Jamie Anderson has recovered from an ankle problem and will link up with Richard Preece and Stuart Clark in a powerful back row.
Centre Richard Fleming is back after a three-week ban for a red card, while line-out specialist Jonathan Bywater, who was man-of-the-match against Lichfield, will again bolster Malvern’s set-piece options.
Woods added: “As long as we can hold Whitchurch in the tight encounters, we should be OK. If we can secure our own ball in the set-pieces, we should be able to match them, which gives us an opportunity to attack.
“If we can get anything at Whitchurch, it would be a big confidence-booster ahead of the rest of the season.
“We then have to beat the teams around us in the division – Market Bosworth and Berkswell – before going to Kenilworth for the final game of the season.”