Coventrians 22 Alcester 7
Midlands Four West (South)
FOR the second time this season Alcester travelled to Coventrians’ Black Pad home – which has proved to be an unhappy hunting ground for the Kings Coughton men over the years – and it proved so again as for the second time in as many months they returned home empty-handed having previously exited the Warwickshire Vase at the hands of the same opponents.
Against a team struggling towards the foot of the table, Alcester had high hopes going into this match. Two bonus points victories in their first three games had established Alcester in the top half of table, but this was far from a top half performance.
Almost from start to finish Alcester were second best in what was by some distance their worst league performance of the season.
In the first quarter the home side forced themselves into the lead with two early tries. Alcester’s defence was disorganised at times and, although their lineout was going well, the quality possession that was secured was too often wasted.
An early substitution saw centre Lee Avery-Sherwood join the fray earlier than was planned as he is only just returning from injury. However, the former Stratford player made an almost instant impact in shoring up the defence and, for the first time in the game, Alcester began to threaten.
It was Avery-Sherwood, later named man of the match, who pulled his team back into the game with a fine try which was converted by Matt Ashby.
For ten minutes Alcester showed their early season form and dominated as the bigger home side struggled to live with the pace at which Alcester were now playing the game and more points for the visitors looked likely.
However, that was as good as it got and, when they were on top, Alcester inexplicably allowed themselves to be dragged back into a slow, forwards-dominated game which they were never going to win.
Coventrians’ third try before the interval may have been against the run of play, but after that they never looked back.
The second half turned into a drab affair, just as the home side would have wanted it to be, and Alcester failed to impose themselves.
Despite carrying an injury, scrum half Robbie Parker was Alcester’s most threatening player. Flanker Ben Hope was outstanding in the lineout and George Green did well at both eight and when he moved to prop, but the positives were few and far between.
Alcester rarely posed a threat in the second half and the home win, complete with a bonus point for Coventrians, was secured late on after some more suspect defending from Alcester deep in their own 22.
Fifth placed Alcester return to league action on November 7 when they host fellow mid-table side Coventry Welsh.
ALCESTER RFC’s bonfire and fireworks party takes place on Friday, November 6.
Gates open at 6.30pm and the bonfire will be lit at 7.30pm before the fireworks commence at 8pm.
There will be the usual refreshments available on the evening, courtesy of the bar and barbecue, along with a number of other amusements and ample free parking on the evening at the Kings Coughton ground.
Entry for adults on the night is £5, with under 16s at £3 and pre-school children going free. For tickets purchased in advance (please visit the club for more information) there is a £1 concession on these prices.
ALCESTER U16s kept battling but were beaten 37-14 by an impressive visiting Shipston team.
Injuries and unavailability meant Alcester’s normally strong squad of 26 was down to just the bare 15 plus one substitute but, with new captain Steve Lowe leading the team for the first time, the home side’s mood was buoyant.
After falling 15-0 behind Alcester rallied and their pack found some dominance. A number of well composed rucks drew in enough Shipston players before the ball was unleashed to the Alcester back line.
Well timed passing along the line allowed Cian Allen to breach the Shipston defences and run more than 40 metres to touch down in the far left corner, leaving a very challenging conversion kick.
However, Reiss Bassett stepped up and stroked the ball between the posts – a kick any professional kicker would have been proud of – leave his side trailling 15-7 at the break.
Unfortunately the hosts could not build on this momentum in the second half but there was some late reward when James Gionis made good progress into the Shipston half and, from a well secured ruck, Steve Lowe picked up and assisted by James Bates emerged from a mass of bodies in front of the posts to touch down for the final score of the game, which was easily converted by Harry Adams.
Special mention goes to man of the match Oscar Holland, who had an excellent game at full back, particularly in defence and without whom this would have been a more emphatic victory for Shipston.