Alcester 2nds 34 Coventrians 2nds 25
Warwickshire 2nd XV Shield semi-final
ALCESTER’S second string made it a perfect weekend for the club with victory against their Coventry visitors on Sunday to book their second Warwickshire 2nd XV Shield final appearance in three years.
With the slope at their back in the first half, Alcester started well and were in front early on when No 8 Meka Pieri picked up from a scrum inside the visitors’ twenty-two and raced in unchallenged.
The visitors soon responded when their big No 10 powered over from short range, despite the attention of the home defence who were hanging off him as he crashed over.
Alcester’s Spaniard in their ranks, Jose Jimenez, scored the home side’s second try before the visitors’ No 8 levelled the score after taking advantage of missed tackles in midfield to stroll in from 30 metres. His kicker edged Coventrians in front for the first time in the game at 12-10.
Director of rugby Stu Whitehead, who has worked hard to get a 2nd XV side out all season, had a bloody end to his game on the left wing when he caught an accidental stray boot to the head in a tackle and was forced off for hospital treatment.
Whitehead was replaced by Glyn Smith, the former 1st XV fly half, making his first appearance of the season.
The home side were finding it difficult with their place kicking, none more so when they missed a chance to go back in front when a penalty attempt was dragged wide from in front of the posts, but they did finish the half on top and were looking powerful with ball in hand.
This was particularly the case in the centre where pairing Tim Jackson and Jamie Hackett both ran hard and straight and punched holes in the visitors’ defence, which their side failed to exploit until at last the ball was sent wide to right wing Toby Allen in space who crossed to restore his side’s lead with their third try to make it 15-12 at the break.
With the slope at their back in the second half, the visitors started brightly and levelled the score from a well struck penalty from their kicker in the opening exchanges.
Alcester had made several changes at the break to use all of their squad and the fresh legs certainly seemed to contribute to a dominant phase of the game, which saw the home side take a match-winning lead.
Smith made an incisive break to the line with a determined run and, when he was halted just a couple of metres short, his deft flick from the back of his hand found second row Jamie Miller up in support who crossed for his side’s fourth try to reclaim the lead.
Jackson scored Alcester’s fifth try following a powerful run from centre and Smith became his side’s fifth different kicker of the afternoon, and the first successful one, to give his side a 27-15 lead.
Coventrians were now always chasing the game, but they refused to accept defeat and narrowed the deficit to 27-18 with another successful penalty attempt.
Smith tried to restore the 12-point advantage but his penalty attempt hit the upright, before his brother in law Luke Spencer showed good strength to power his way over the line with a score that made the game safe, which Smith converted.
There was still time for one last twist when Alcester’s Lewis Hatton was yellow-carded for team persistent infringements and the Coventry side took full advantage with another score which completed the scoring.
Alcester now await the winners of Atherstone and Claverdon 2nd XV who are due to fight out the other semi-final.