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Rugby - Southall stars with hat-trick in vital win
9:00am Sunday 14th October 2012 in Sport
JAMES Southall was the hero with a hat-trick of tries to clinch a last-gasp 30-26 win for Malvern over Old Patesians in National Three South West.
With the sides having equally poor starts to the season, the match against Malvern’s nearest neighbours from Cheltenham took on must-win proportions.
Attacking from the off, Ieuan Mustow and Nick Miller moved the ball out quickly for winger Rich Fleming to score in the fourth minute.
But a five-metre scrum saw the hosts under pressure with the ball thrown wide for Old Pats centre Lee Taylor to dive over and Connor Gwilliam to convert.
Within five minutes, Malvern edged back in front as centres Mustow and Miller broke the line to put scrum-half Southall in for a fine try with Luke Milton converting.
The lighter Malvern pack was well co-ordinated and, in the 23rd minute, Southall burrowed through with an outstretched hand to put the hosts further ahead.
The conversion and a penalty were missed and Old Pats brought the deficit back to three points at the break with a James Pettigrew try and Gwilliam conversion.
Having won a second-half scrum, the ball was whipped out to Fleming and the big winger got through the narrowest of gaps to score in the corner but suffered an injury in the process and had to be replaced.
Old Pats hit back to within a point through full-back George Hughes’ converted effort but George Kitching opened a four-point gap with a penalty.
Two minutes later, Taylor bagged his second score of the day to edge Old Pats a point clear with three minutes left on the clock. However, Malvern showed gritty determination and Southall bagged his hat-trick at the end of a thriller to secure the victory and help the Spring Lane side leap-frog their visitors into ninth spot.
Skipper Matt Williams said: “We showed a will to win out there which has perhaps been missing a bit with all the disruptions through injury in the early games.
“Our pack worked as a real unit for the whole 80 minutes and the backs were slick and penetrative.”
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