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Lions beat a spirited Malvern at Webb Ellis RoadSat 01 Oct

Lions latest visitors were old friends Malvern RFC from the scenic side of Worcestershire, writes Player Coach Rob Dignum. Malvern is likely more well known to many for its picturesque hill walks and to some, a good looking Friesian cow called Daisy; the town’s rugby club however has been a force for many years. Of the Lions faithful an old codger informed me before the game that Rugby have played Malvern three times before Saturday, always the winners but every one hard fought; which did nothing to ease any nerves. My experiences have been somewhat different, I think I have lost to Malvern more times than I have won locking horns many times in higher leagues, they arrived to a rain sodden Webb Ellis Road as a real threat to Lions aspirations, this evidenced by the thousand WhatsApp messages exchanged between the coaches in the build up.

For the third successive week the skies were grey and conditions slippery, which was a shame as we were going to don the brand new white kit; in the end Uncle Ron preferring the black option. Alas this did not alter Lions intent, start big and make life uncomfortable for a strong Malvern side who are eyeing up promotion. Lions ripped into the opposition and enjoyed dominance all over the field, albeit up against a stubborn Malvern who simply refused to buckle and defended gallantly throughout.

The official who had a good game and was consistent comes under a bit of stick from the Malvern match report I believe, which is ironic given that their back row regularly arrived to me at first receiver at exactly the same time as the ball. Aggy had asked of his fattest and eldest back to stand flat and get us over the gain line in order that we play on the front foot, this task was made difficult however. As such Malvern were penalised at regular intervals allowing Jerry Turagabeci to punish the travelling side, three such penalties beautifully converted for a 9-0 lead. With half an hour played, frustratingly the scoreboard was not really working in conjunction with Lions superior possession and territorial advantages due to heroic Malvern defence and Lions main stumbling block currently, when the ball is stuck in the tight it should be in the wider channels and of course vice versa. With nerves still at the fore Lions then broke away with two scores before half time to put some breathing space between the sides. The first was a belter; a scrum on our own 10m line saw a well worked move finished off by full back Andy Bowyer. This was quickly followed up with Sam Herrington drooling and begging for his favourite thing in the whole world; a line out… his powers of persuasion winning over the decision to kick for goal, instead a kick to the corner. His decision vindicated when he took the line out and dived over unopposed as Malvern bizarrely opted not to contest the line out nor to engage or drive so close to their line… early seismograph reading show Sam’s dive measured 4.8 on the Richter scale.  

So, we Lions went in at half time pleased with our first half efforts; the breakdown effective, set piece efficient and a much reduced error count than in pervious weeks… the task as ever offered by Aggy, replicate this in the second half.  Given the quality of the opposition… their resilience and greasy conditions meant that the second forty was not as strong as the first with a mixed bag of good, bad and indifferent. Lions crossed early on, Sam Herrington again on hand to barge over from close range after slick handling saw Lions move swiftly downfield for a 28-0 lead. Further dominance and ongoing Malvern infringement at the breakdown forced another three points again courtesy of Jerry’s trusted right boot, before the game lost shape for a period of time and became an arm wrestle played around the half way line with nothing of any real note happening, other than scrum half Joe Higgins telling me a good joke that I am unable to repeat.

The game drawing to a close, goal hanger Herrington crossed for his third in as many metres, before Malvern scored two of their own, the last one on the final whistle… well taken, but one that did not impress Aggy given the ease at which it came. So, a final score of Lions 36-12 Malvern was another one like Leamington in our previous game, pleased to get the result, happy with five league points but ultimately left feeling a little hollow in the knowledge, with due respect to both named opponents, we did not click for much more than 50 or 60 minutes and coughed up four of five other potential scores. This is indicative of the side, not content at our performance, knowing there is a lot more to come and striving to click for the full 80.

Next opponents Nuneaton Old Ed’s away, which will again not be taken lightly. Happily however, we look forward to welcoming back captain Chris Wood and Jack Williams from injury plus Sam James, Tom Kimberley and Adam Attenborough from their travels; should make for a tough week of training and selection therefore.   

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