Rugby St Andrews 23 Alcester 5
Midlands Three West (South)
DESPITE defeat on Saturday, Alcester were able to take plenty of positives from their performance at their north Warwickshire hosts who moved up to fourth with a victory in which the scoreline flattered them.
Two of last season’s Colts made their league debuts for the Red & Blacks as Josh Phillips played at flanker and James Bates at prop.
Early on the signs looked ominous when the home side started much the better and scored their first try within the opening five minutes and a penalty made it 8-0 before the visitors had got a foothold in the game.
However, after the first 20 minutes, there was very little between the two sides and Alcester winger Lewis Walker was fed by centre Frazer Jackson to beat his man and score a try which reduced the arrears to 8-5.
Crucially, though, the home side crossed the line in the last play of the first half to make it 15-5.
Going down the slope, Alcester looked the more dangerous side for most of the second half and stand-in skipper Jack Green received an excellent offload from man of the match Louis Smith to ‘score’ between the posts, only for the referee to call it back for a forward pass.
Alcester fly half Max Biltcliffe continued to probe for defensive weaknesses but on a cold and wet afternoon opportunities were few and far between.
An injury to full back Jake Grainger saw veteran Robbie Parker make a welcome return to the Alcester first team but Saints added a penalty to stretch their lead before an interception in the last minute of the game gifted them another try and a scoreline which flattered them.
Eighth placed Alcester host leaders Shipston on Saturday (2.15pm), with only nine points separating the sides.
WITH scheduled league opponents Coventry Welsh 2nds dropping out in midweek, allowing Alcester 2nds to claim the league points, the Kings Coughton second string were grateful to pick Bournville from the fixture pool at short notice and a hard fought match finished 5-5.
Alcester were guilty of over-complicating matters near the try line until five minutes before half time their pack caught and drove a lineout. Number 8 Rupert Daffern broke off the advancing maul to crash over to give the hosts a 5-0 lead at the break.
Alcester continued to dominate possession in the second half and looked threatening each time fly half Josh O’Connor had ball in hand.
Bournville did fashion a couple of scoring opportunities, most notably when their left wing latched on to a defensive clearance from Alcester and look destined to score, but he lost control of the ball as he dived for the line in the corner.
Moments later the visitors did level the score when a kick ahead from their centre allowed him to slide invitingly over the Alcester try-line.
It looked like home scrum half Lewis Hopkins had touched the ball down over his line but, as the ball slid clear of his grasp after he had done so, a Bournville attacker pounced on the loose ball and the referee awarded the try.
Alcester were grateful for two missed Bournville penalties in the final moments of the game to claim the draw.
Teenager Matty Stone was named Alcester man of the match for his work from the second row of the scrum. At the other end of the age scale, current U9s coach Darren Turner played his first game of rugby in 15 years and gave a good account of himself at centre.
The 2nds also host Shipston on Saturday.