Alcester 39 Old Yardleians 21
Midlands Three West (South)
ALCESTER registered their first league win of the year with a workmanlike victory over their Solihull visitors on Saturday.
The hosts started the game full of determination and Chris Howell crossed over the line in the left corner within the first 90 seconds for a try converted by Mat Ashby.
Twenty-one-year-old Lewis Walker was denied a birthday score as he was high-tackled on his way to the line. After a lengthy discussion with the opposite touch judge, the referee awarded a penalty rather than the seven-point penalty try both teams were expecting.
Alcester continued to dominate, showing particular strength in the scrum. Old Yardleians were getting frustrated and their tackles becoming more reckless in an attempt to stop Alcester advancing further and this resulted in the visitors’ scrum-half receiving ten minutes in the sin-bin for another high tackle.
Moments later Alcester were expecting to see their opponents go down to 13 men when it was thought there had been a deliberate knock-on as Alcester pressed towards the whitewash again.
The resulting scrum saw the ball fed out wide to full-back Jamie Harland for him to cross for his first try of the match. A change in the kicker meant Max Biltcliffe added the conversion this time.
Within five minutes Alcester added to their lead when a kick ahead by Ed Gough was chased by several Alcester players but Jack Green was first to the ball to ground it over the line. The conversion attempt rebounded off the post.
However, Alcester were prevented from running away with the game as knock-ons and poor handling halted their continuous advances to the whitewash.
As well as leading the attacking front, Alcester also put on a strong defensive performance and were challenged with a period of sustained pressure on their own line. This was the closest their opposition came to scoring in the first half but, despite their best efforts, their phase play was ended by a knock-on.
Winger Howell and centre Gough demonstrated a solid partnership and were consistently making ground on the left wing. They gained back over half a pitch off territory between them to reinforce Alcester’s dominance.
A looping pass from Tommy Wright which received sighs of disapproval from the touchlines was skilfully collected by man of the match Gough who continued to read the game well and he was rewarded with his side’s fourth try.
Green looked to add to his try tally before half-time but was bought down in a bone-crunching big hit, although he was able to keep his composure and offload to Harland and in the subsequent tackle Alcester were awarded a penalty in front of the posts for the tackler not rolling away. It was an easy three points which saw Alcester enter the break with a 27-0 lead.
Half-time substitutions led to upped intensity and aggression for the start of the second 40 minutes and Old Yards took control of the scrum and from the resulting phases scored their first try.
Alcester retaliated and added another seven points through Harland’s second try and another Biltcliffe conversion.
In a scrappy battle to the line and through a heap of bodies, Old Yardleians scored their second try, before Green went on another powerful run and managed to hand-off three defenders before the ball made its way out to replacement winger Will Silk to conclude Alcester’s scoring.
Despite tight-head prop Wright receiving a yellow card in the closing stages of the game – allowing old Yards the extra man and the overlap to score their third try – Alcester still came away victorious and they remain eighth ahead of their March 2 visit to leaders Pinley.
Old Yardleians 2nds 33 Alcester 2nds 17
ALCESTER 2nds lost out to their Old Yardleians counterparts despite a good effort by the 14 who travelled.
Late cry-offs meant the visitors travelled short and their numbers included veteran Adam Turner who was making his first appearance in more than ten years, as well as Stu Phillips and Jeff Williams who also played the full 80 minutes despite being the wrong side of 50.
Old Yardleians were penalised for persistent diving over the ball in the ruck but Alcester were unable to capitalise on this.
Despite Alcester leading 17-12 at the break, their opposition brought on plenty of fresh legs for the second half and, although the 14 men battled bravely, their tired legs were unable to hold on for victory.
Josh Phillips, Glyn Smith and Ross Gard were the Alcester try-scorers, with one converted by Luke Spencer.