Alcester 15 Rugby St Andrews 12
Midlands Three West (South)
ALCESTER produced their performance of the season so far to beat leaders Rugby St Andrews on Saturday.
The visitors still ended the afternoon four points clear at the top of the table but had seen their perfect league record go up in smoke in their tenth fixture of the campaign.
Alcester were put under pressure early on and were forced to defend their try-line in boggy, wet conditions but, after a quarter of an hour, Rugby St Andrews broke through the defence with a driving maul to take the lead.
Saints found themselves a man down after persistent infringement at the scrum brought a yellow card, however, it was not until their opposition were back to full strength that Alcester secured their best period of possession.
After numerous phases and great ball retention from flanker Jamie Clarke, he crashed through and the scores were drawn level after Ed Gough successfully converted the try.
The visitors hit back before the break with a set move from the back of the scrum which set free their full-back to crash over the whitewash for their second try of the game and give them a five-point lead at the interval.
Alcester had the better of the second half but left it late to claw the game back. The home side stole a Saints lineout and scored via James Bates to level again with less than ten minutes to go.
It was then down to loose-head prop Mat Ashby to hold his nerve when Alcester were awarded a penalty in the last seconds of the game. Ashby struck the ball perfectly in difficult kicking conditions to seal victory for his side and put an end to Rugby St Andrews’ winning streak.
Alcester captain James Hibbard was delighted with his side, saying: “It was a truly spirited performance with commitment from every player. We played to our patterns and Rugby St Andrews could not match our physicality. I was proud to play with each and every one.”
Head coach David Miles echoed Hibbard’s thoughts, adding: “It was an amazing performance. The hard work of the players is paying off and we are looking forward to the second half of the season.”
Seventh-placed Alcester visit ninth-placed Stoke Old Boys on Saturday.
Rugby St Andrews 2nds 31 Alcester 2nds 41
ALCESTER 2nds regained top spot in the Warwickshire Merit League as victory enabled them to leapfrog hosts Rugby St Andrews.
Antony Cauvin led the way with a brace of tries and Glyn Smith, Shaun Nash, Ollie Clarke and Rupert Daffern also crossed the whitewash. Chris Howell converted four tries and kicked a penalty to add to Alcester’s tally.
Alcester looked like they may have thrown away their winning chances as their lack of discipline saw Matt Jupp and Shaun Nash in the sin-bin at the same time.
The home side took full advantage and scored three times whilst Alcester were down to 13 men but it was not enough to claim victory as Alcester secured another weekend double win for the club.
Director of rugby Stu Phillips said: “What a day for the club. I am so proud of every player who wore the Phoenix with pride.
“With both Rugby St Andrews teams sat top of their respective leagues, with one loss between them, it was always going to be a tough ask, but all 34 players who put on the red and black played without fear to secure two amazing wins – the best Christmas present a director of rugby could receive.”