Alcester 2nds 14 Old Laurentians 3rds 13
ALCESTER 2nds maintained their Warwickshire Three title challenge as they ground out a narrow victory over Old Laurentians 3rds on Saturday.
However, the visitors from Rugby posed a much stronger outfit than their league position suggests and, as so often over the last 20-plus years at Kings Coughton, the match-winners came in the form of veteran try-scorers Robbie Parker on his 43rd birthday and Scott Carmichael.
Alcester started down the slope on a dry afternoon but on a pitch that was still very heavy underfoot and the opening half an hour was very even with few clearcut chances for either side.
The deadlock was broken by Parker who spotted a gap in a scrambling Laurentians defence to dart in under the posts. A good break by guest player Angus Wightman had put his side on the front foot to set up Parker before full-back Chris Howell converted the score.
The game then had to move pitches after a nasty-looking leg injury to an Old Laurentians player required an ambulance to be called.
When the game resumed, the visitors reduced the deficit with a well-taken penalty just before half-time and Alcester took a 7-3 lead into the break.
In the second half, the visitors had the better of the opening quarter of an hour and only a speedy intervention from wing Sid Tunstall prevented a try as a Laurentians player showed good footballing skills to kick the ball towards the line.
From the resulting lineout, however, the visitors caught and drove on towards the line and they took the lead when the maul crashed over the line with Old Laurentians still in possession. The conversion was missed to give a visitors a narrow 8-7 lead.
The home side were struggling to make the most of their possession due to spilled passes in good positions and the visitors capitalised on these mistakes, often defensively kicking the turnover ball back deep into Alcester territory.
The visitors looked to have taken control of the game inside the last ten minutes when, from another dominant lineout, the ball was delivered back to their fly-half who did brilliantly well to keep control of possession and jink his way to the try-line.
Crucially for the result of the game, the difficult conversion was again missed, leaving Alcester still only a converted score away.
In the closing stages of the game an incisive break from Tunstall took play in-field and into the Old Laurentians half. The winger offloaded out of the tackle but just short of Carmichael who instinctively kicked ahead before winning the chase to the loose ball to gather and dive over under the posts.
Howell again converted to put his side back in front with only seconds remaining.
There was no further time for the visitors to hit back and Alcester closed the game out to claim a hard-fought win and keep their title challenge on track – currently sitting three points behind leaders Manor Park 2nds.
On Saturday, Alcester’s first team return to action at Burbage in Midlands Three West (South), whilst the 2nds welcome Coventrian 2nds to Kings Coughton.