Upton-on-Severn 31 Alcester 8
Midlands Four West (South)
AFTER victory the previous weekend, Alcester came down to earth with a bump on Saturday in a game against their promotion-chasing hosts which was won and lost on a yellow card decision.
Alcester started really well in blustery conditions they are beginning to get used to this season.
Without first choice half backs Robbie Parker and Glyn Smith, and with Michael Nason and Meka Pieri missing from the pack which impressed in the win over Stoke Old Boys, Alcester once again took to the pitch with a much-changed side.
For the first 30 minutes, the visitors’ defence was strong and the pressure they applied rattled the home team.
Up front the scrum was shunting the home pack backwards and, after a succession of penalties, second placed Upton had a player yellow-carded.
Full back Matt Ashby slotted home the three points from the penalty to give Alcester the lead.
They say the sign of a good side is how they respond to adversity and, a player down, Upton rallied and began to show why they have been beaten just once all season.
However, although Alcester did not look like they were going to extend their lead despite the man advantage, they did not looked threatened until the yellow card of their own which cost them the game.
Fly half Sam Smith jumped out of the defensive line too quickly at a penalty close to his own goalline and the referee had no option but to send him to the touchline for ten minutes. In those ten minutes Upton scored three tries and went from 3-0 down to 19-3 up and the game was won.
With the confidence knocked out of them, Alcester looked a shadow of the team that had played so well in the first half an hour and even when back to full strength they struggled to stem the Upton tide.
Second half injuries to Louis Smith, Dom Evans and Phil Birks did not help and, with playing resources stretched to the absolute limits, Alcester’s squad was down to the bare bones and it showed.
Until the club is able to regularly put out a second team Alcester are going to struggle. Those who are playing are giving everything they can but the club needs to be running two senior sides every Saturday if it is going to be able to look forward to 2016 and beyond with any optimism.
Alcester scored a late consolation try through Sam Smith and winger Stuart Whitehead also came close to scoring when he showed a turn of speed the team had been missing during his long-term injury lay-off.
Up front Alcester were excellent all game and the four front row players that were used – Jason Richings, Tom Harris, George Green and Henry Jenkins – were collectively recognised as the men of the match.
On Saturday, January 2 Alcester visit Northampton Men’s Own in the third round of the Midlands Junior Vase.
The Northampton side currently head their league table, having been beaten once this season.
Before that Alcester host their annual Boxing Day game, which this season has a different twist to it as an Alcester Lads and Dads XV take on an Alcester Best of the Rest XV.
Kick-off at Kings Coughton is from 11.30am and all friends old and new who want to play or simply enjoy the festivities are welcome to attend.