Alcester 11 Stoke Old Boys 7
Midlands Division Four West (South)
RUGBY UNION: AGAINST the odds, Alcester turned the league tables upside down with a memorable win against promotion chasing Stoke Old Boys.
After a lucklustre performance at Redditch a week ago, a level of intensity returned to Alcester’s game and with better finishing this game could have been put to bed much sooner.
Experienced fly-half Glyn Smith returned to the team after a combination of injury, illness and work commitments which meant that this was his first league appearance of the season. Also returning to the team after shorter spells out were number 8 Meka Pieri and winger Alex Chiles.
All three made a difference but the whole squad upped their performances in difficult conditions.
Things didn’t go to plan early on as ten minutes into the game, second row Louis Smith was forced off with a shoulder injury. Phil Birks stepped into the engine room, with Josh Eborall coming on in the back row.
But even against the blustery wind and up the hill Alcester looked the better team and could’ve taken the lead when captain Jack Green made a fine break but found no support at the end of it.
Shortly after winger Matt Ashby should have scored when Green set him clear only for Ashby to lose grip of the ball in the run to the line.
It was the visitors, though, who took the lead taking advantage of a lapse in Alcester’s defence to score under the posts to lead 7-0 at half time.
At the interval scrum half Robbie Parker was replaced by Jimmy Watson because of injury, and it was Watson who created his team’s first try-scoring opportunity of the half when he jumped through a gap and sprinted into the opposition 22, only for his final pass to be spilled by the supporting Jamie Clarke.
A penalty soon after, successfully converted by full back Sam Smith made it 7-3 before Green forced his way over for a deserved try.
At 8-7, it was a tense final 10 minutes and the visitors had the chance to regain the lead when they opted to kick a penalty from distance. The kick was short and Alcester punished the miss when they charged down the field to secure their own penalty which Sam Smith slotted home for the win.
Number 8 Meka Pieri was awarded the man of the match, with the front row union of Jason Richings, Michael Nason and George Green close behind.
Alcester will need to keep their improved performance levels for their next two competitive games.
Their final league outing of the year comes at another promotion chasing side, Upton on Severn, who have been beaten only once this season and currently lie in second place in the league table.
On Saturday January 2, Alcester visit Northampton Mens Own RFC who they have been drawn against in the 3rd round of the National Junior Vase competition. The Northampton side currently head their league table, having also only been beaten once this season. Kick off for both games is 2.15pm.
Between these games 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 King’s Coughton is from 11.30am.