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Home > News > Malvern 13 - Oxford Harlequins 7
Your News Malvern 13 - Oxford Harlequins 7

This relegation battle was a must-win fixture for both sides at a muddy Spring Lane on Saturday. Malvern, with 12 players injured or unavailable, handing first team debuts to Jake Hiscock at flanker and Tom Redfern at scrum half, whilst new father Ollie Marshall came back after a long lay-off after Rory Gratwohl picked up a hamstring injury. From the first whistle Malvern shook the Quins with the ferocity of their forward play, driving to the 22 metre area and winning a first minute penalty which Redfern coolly put over. With the Malvern pack putting Quins into disarray at the set piece, driving them backwards, they camped in the Oxford red zone until Redfern whipped through a disorganised defence to score a tenth minute try and convert it himself.

Malvern continued to pressurise but Quins started to settle down and, with the muddy conditions making handling difficult, most of the play in the rest of the half seemed to take place in the middle of the field. Malverns excellent defence continued to keep Oxford at bay, whilst the visiting number eight, Bennett, was fortunate only to receive a yellow card just before half time for a cynical taking out of Redfern.

Given the conditions, the second half saw a lot of kicking for territory from both sides, with Malvern coming off better as they kept Quins pegged back in their own half for long periods. Nick Brookes, carrying a shoulder injury, came off and was replaced by club stalwart Steve Cooper for a very occasional first team appearance and the old warhorse did not disappoint, anchoring the scrum just when it was needed. On the hour Redfern put over another penalty to stretch Malverns lead and Oxford responded by making a series of attacks which the Malvern defence repelled. However, after a five metre scrum the Oxford breakthrough finally came in the 72nd minute as the line was stretched and flanker Kenny Calondine went over, Will Hilton converting. This was the cue for some frantic Quins attempts to snatch a last gasp win, as they had done earlier in the season, but this time the Malvern defence was rock solid and they played out the remaining minutes to take the win and to move within a point of Avonmouth OBs.

The Malvern coaching team were happy with a win against a never-say-die Oxford Harlequins side in appalling conditions. Even with the disruptions caused by injuries and non-availability, the team performance was an indication of how much Malvern are improving as the season progresses. Whilst they still need to secure wins against some sides higher up the table to ensure safety, the team is in great heart and there is much more self-belief about their performances.

Malvern now face a difficult task at improving Redingensians this Saturday before two key games against Amersham & Chiltern and Avonmouth OBs at the beginning of March.

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