THREADBARE Malvern went down fighting with a 52-23 defeat at resurgent Redingensians in National League Three South West.
The Spring Lane side’s stuttering season continued in Reading when three more injuries and several unavailabilities saw them struggle to field a full side.
It was a major challenge to compete against the in-form Rams but Malvern did for 35 minutes courtesy of Tom Redfern as his three penalties kept them in contention at 12-9 until just before halftime.
However, the 10 minutes either side of the break saw the hosts increase their lead with two tries, the second due to Malvern’s failure to gather the ball at the restart.
As the visitors struggled at the set-piece, Rams punished them by not pushing at the scrum, making it appear their opponents were shoving early, and the resulting penalties were turned into tries.
However, third-from-bottom Malvern never gave up and Nick Miller, playing at flanker instead of centre, broke through to set up Ryan Watkins for a superb try, converted by Redfern.
They went through a purple patch of dominance when running the ball and Miller capped his earlier assist with a fine try which Redfern again converted to bring the score back to a more respectable 38-23.
Fourth-placed Rams raised their game again and a deft chip over the Malvern defence saw the stand-off on hand to score and convert.
The final try was bizarre as a Rams player ran past the referee to go into the ruck from the side before the ball was touched down.
With a week off from league action, it is hoped many of Malvern’s injured players can return to full fitness before crunch matches against Amersham and Chiltern at home and then Avonmouth Old Boys away.
With Avonmouth only one point ahead, it is imperative that relegation-threatened Malvern win, especially as the Bristolians have an easier run-in on paper.
Coach Nick Tisdale, who played the full 80 minutes on Saturday, is still confident they can respond well to the challenge ahead of them with the support of the fans.