Stoke Old Boys 26 Alcester 39
Midlands Four West (South)
ALCESTER overcame the disappointment of the derby defeat in their previous outing against Redditch to record only their second away win of the campaign and arguably their best result of the season as they secured a league double over their Coventry opponents.
This was a very important win for the Kings Coughton men, particularly considering other results on the day, which saw most of their relegation rivals also claim victory.
Alcester play their final game of the season at home to second placed and promotion-chasing Upton-on-Severn on Saturday (3pm), knowing victory will go a long way towards securing but not necessarily guaranteeing their survival at this level, as Alcester sit out the final round of fixtures.
On a bright Saturday afternoon at Albert Gale Field, Alcester got off to the worst possible start when they conceded a try in the first minute following an uncharacteristic mistake from veteran scrum half Robbie Parker, who received clean lineout ball from his pack, but saw his loose pass intercepted by the home number 8 who gratefully powered over from just inside the Alcester 22m line.
To their credit, Alcester hit straight back through full back Sam Smith who converted his own try to level the score inside the first ten minutes.
Smith was short with a long range penalty kick before the latest in the line of recent junior section additions to the senior side – Tom Goddard, youngest son of former club chairman Pete – scored a try on his debut after a good move by the Alcester back line.
The home side had the edge at scrum time and they levelled the score from a close range set piece, with their No 8 again instrumental in the try.
The topsy-turvy nature of the game continued when once again the visitors reclaimed the lead as Smith added his second try when he powered through several half-hearted home tackles to score, before dusting himself down to add the conversion.
Lock forward Ed Johnson was enjoying another fine game, particularly at the lineout where he spoilt a number of Stoke throws and secured most of his side’s own lineout ball, and he was also prominent in the loose and he added the visitors’ fourth try and bonus point score just before the break.
A few seconds short of the half time whistle was the first notable altercation of a number throughout a feisty afternoon, which saw one of the home prop forwards yellow-carded.
Turning around 24-12 in front, Alcester scored the first points of the second half thanks to a well struck penalty from replacement Matt Ashby, before Stoke hit back when they were restored to their full contingent of players with their third try to narrow their deficit to 27-19.
In an end to end game throughout, the visitors once again extended their lead thanks to their best try of the game. Jamie Clarke, who started the game at flanker but moved to the centre in the second half to cover injuries to Lewis Walker and Alex Chiles in the back line, ran a scything line through the home defence which took him fully 50 metres before he was finally hauled down just inside the Stoke 22.
He offloaded to his skipper and fellow centre Jack Green who was in support and he in turn found Robbie Parker to score. Ashby converted the try.
Any thoughts the game was already won were soon quashed as the match reached its final ten minutes. With the home side putting pressure on the Alcester line in an attempt to get back into the game, the visitors lost prop George Green and centre Clarke to the sin-bin in quick succession, with both players yellow-carded for infringements near their own line.
It was no surprise the home side added their fourth and bonus point try shortly afterwards when they made their numerical advantage count.
Now only eight points ahead and being forced to play the rest of the game two men down, a nervy finish to the game looked in prospect but, when Alcester were able to take play downfield, Johnson claimed his second try when he extended his almost telescopic reach to place the ball over the line after being tackled just short.
Alcester U16s were emphatic 59-0 winners at Dunlop thanks to tries from Cian Allen (3), Sam Sullivan, James Bates, Oscar Holland (2), Steve Lowe and Adam Currien. Harry Adams converted seven of the tries.