MALVERN hit the bottom of Midlands One West after their 22-12 defeat at Stoke was cut short on the hour mark due to the weather conditions.

Driving freezing rain and a wind chill taking temperatures down to -8 made the 60 minutes played a tortuous event for players, the referee and spectators alike.

Fielding eight changes and a much weakened side, Malvern started brightly before injuries again disrupted the team.

Stoke opened the scoring and Malvern lost Luke Milton to a wrist injury.

But Jon Wills then broke through the home defence to equalise with the conversion putting the Spring Lane men ahead briefly.

However, Stoke put in well-drilled drives to retake the lead and stretch it to 17-7 before Milton returned.

Malvern threatened, taking the ball into the home 22, but it was turned over and sent out to Stoke's winger who ran in from deep to secure a try bonus point.

The visitors gamely tried to pull back a score as the weather worsened and the half-time whistle blew.

Wills was carried off with a leg injury and Grant Fraser also picked up a knock as the bench was emptied with the reliable Richard Hobbs filling in at centre.

The second period saw Malvern grow in confidence, winning three penalties on the trot as Stoke felt the pressure.

Joe Pain marked his first-team debut with an interception and 70-metre run to the line for a fine solo try.

As the 60-minute mark approached both sides agreed conditions were threatening player safety and the match was ended with the result standing.

A Malvern spokesman said: "Whilst it could be argued that the decision to end the match on 60 minutes was correct, the fact that the bad weather was forecast should have been taken into account and the game postponed.

"However, the rigidity of RFU rulings over postponements would have meant the game would have to be played on December 22 when player availability would be an even greater problem.

"The Stoke and Malvern presidents were in agreement that clubs need to take back such decisions into their own hands as amateur organisations whose players are rightly not bound by professional contracts or commercial considerations."

Malvern now have until Saturday, January 5, for injuries to heal when they take on Stourbridge Lions at Spring Lane (2.15pm).

Longton won 11-0 at Lions to send Malvern to the bottom of the table.