Newport 10 Malvern 9
Malvern travelled to Shropshire for the only Midlands match to be played, with the incentive of both league points and a North Midlands Cup final place on offer. On a remarkably good back up pitch which had survived the overnight frosts, play was fast and furious from the first whistle. With both teams moving the ball out wide and defences covering well there were a lot of errors, forced and unforced. Malvern started the brighter, spreading play across the back line but being crowded out on the narrower than usual pitch. Newport countered and won a penalty which Chris Perry put over for the lead. Malvern lost Phil Rawle to an early knee injury, to be replaced by Owen Jones. The visitors slowly took the upper hand, putting the Newport scrum under a lot of pressure and driving them off their own put in. The Malvern pack played a pick and drive game, retaining possession and making steady progress into the home half, winning an equalising penalty from Adam Dixon. A long range penalty attempt form each stand-off went wide to leave scores even at half time.
Malvern came out strongly at the start of the second period, Jones and Christian Edwards well to the fore as the pack ground their way to the Newport 22 metre area. Newport infringed in front of the posts and Dixon coolly slotted over to take the lead for the Spring Lane outfit in the 45th minute then repeated the feat five minutes later for a 9-3 lead. By this stage Malvern were totally dominating the tight game, Pickard, Humphreys and Tsang in the front row putting their opposite numbers under immense pressure, whilst the engine room of Williams and Smith added the necessary beef. However, the tide turned when Newport brought on two front row replacements, including the vastly experienced Kaleta, with 15 minutes left. With Malvern tiring after all their dominant exertions, the new blood in the home pack drove Malvern back for the first time in the match. Suddenly Newport tails were up and they made their way deep into Malvern territory. Watkins was yellow carded as Malvern defended desperately, the resultant penalty set up a line-out and from the catch and drive prop Wells burrowed over to score, Perry made no mistake with the conversion to put Newport ahead by a point and although Malvern spent the rest of the game attacking, the home defence held out to take the points and the cup final berth fro the second year running.
Member since: 10th July 2012
Suzanne Korb was born in Hawaii, raised in the American state of Utah and has been living and writing fiction and non in Malvern for over 11 years.