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Home > News > Malvern battle to title and promotion
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Your News Malvern battle to title and promotion
21
APR

Solihull 15 Malvern 18

On a day when it was vital to win to secure promotion, the entire Malvern team put their bodies on the line against a hard, uncompromising Solihull side to take the title.

Starting hesitantly and playing into a strong, gusting wind, a needless line out was conceded by Malvern in the 3rd minute. Solihull sucked in the Malvern defence at the maul and scored in the corner to put the league leaders on the back foot. However, the Spring Lane side buckled down to the task and forced their way deep into Solihull territory. With the back line and loose forwards in the faces of their hosts, Solihull were forced into making hasty clearances and an element of panic crept into their play, forcing them to concede penalties. After one such decision, some back chat was punished by an extra 10 metre concession, putting Chris Hooper in range for a 9th minute score. From the restart, Hooper fielded and kicked deep for Tim Streather to chase, Solihull didn’t release and Hooper’s resultant kick into the teeth of the wind was just wide. Malvern tails were up and the pack showed how good their intensive scrummage training had been as they took the first of several balls against the head – no mean feat against a set of forwards renowned for their power. After another Malvern penalty Owen Jones burst through from the line out but a knock on halted what looked like a certain score. As Malvern looked to be more in control, Richard Fleming used his strength and pace to link up with Streather for a 60 metre run from defence. Malvern’s pack then put in a 30 metre driving maul to threaten the Solihull line, before the ball was whipped out for Fleming to take it on the burst and score, Hooper putting over the 26th minute conversion. Each time the ball was played wide the Malvern backs threatened, first Ryan Henshaw with a powerful run down the wing, then Streather and skipper Ryan Watkins combining well. Another take against the head saw Fleming chase a chip ahead and just being beaten by the bounce on the Solihull line. The half ended wit Malvern still threatening, Streather just held up short.

The second half began with Solihull revitalised and determined to fight their way back in to the game. A saving tackle by Streather stifled the imminent danger, but when the Solihull stand-off was tackled late, running a tapped penalty, the resultant kick 6 minutes in saw the home side back to within 2 points of Malvern. A yellow card saw Solihull reduced to 14 men, as play seemed to stick in the centre of the field for some time as both sides countered each other. Just before the hour mark another controlled Malvern drive deep into home territory, Hooper stepped into the pocket and put over what was to prove a significant dropped goal. Ten minutes before the end Malvern won a line-out and the ball went quickly across the line for Streather to outpace the defence and go over for a try to give Malvern a ten point cushion. They were to need this as Solihull put in a period of sustained pressure deep into injury time, forcing three penalties and catch and drive moves, Fleming picking up a yellow card on the way. The home side finally forced their over for a converted try to give the substantial Malvern following an anxious last few minutes, but the whistle went, Malvern were champions and the crowd and players began the celebrations.

A jubilant David Robins, Malvern’s Director of Rugby, was delighted to be back t the top level of junior rugby. “I said at the beginning of the season that it could all come down to the last match at Solihull, one of the toughest places to get a result. I must pay tribute to our coaches, who prepared the lads so well for this game. Solihull’s big pack had to be negated and our front five were so well drilled that the y pushed them back time and again at the set pieces. With three jumpers in the line out we had increased options and our loose play was excellent. The backs threatened all day, we kept Solihull in check and took play to them to record our first ever victory over them. I’m immensely proud of our achievements with a squad which has featured so many young players. Balanced by the older heads in the pack, we are worthy winners of the league and now look forward to a huge step up in terms of fitness and pace of play. We are already talking to several players with experience at much higher levels to augment the squad, with some promising younger players also set to come on board. We are likely to have some retirements, notably wonderful Club man Steve Cooper, who has come back to first team duty no fewer than 14 times this season. We look forward to an exciting future, travelling to new venues and locking horns with some old rivals.”

Robins has already made arrangements for some testing pre-season warm up matches, including one at Weston super Mare, to ready his side for Midlands One.

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