DIRECTOR of rugby David Irish hailed his side’s ‘magnificent’ defence after Malvern secured a hard-earned 25-10 victory over Nuneaton Old Edwardians.
Malvern were hammered 54-10 by Spartans last week, but they quickly put that result behind them with a gritty display at Spring Lane on Saturday.
Richard Fleming bagged two tries while Laurie Essenhigh and Luke Milton also crossed the whitewash in the second period to claim maximum points.
However, Irish said it was his side’s resilience in the first half which set up the victory in Midlands Two West (South).
“The lads took joint responsibility to improve on last week and in a difficult first half today that showed,” he said.
“Our defence was magnificent and shut out a real threat in the first half. Our tactics in the second period paid off from the start as Adam Dixon came on to dictate play and we had a fine display from the whole team, especially Richard Fleming, who looked full of confidence as he used his strength and speed to score two tries.”
With their heavy loss to Spartans still fresh in their minds and with a strong wind in their faces, Malvern looked set for a difficult opening period.
The Warwickshire side employed the boot of their stand-off to good effect, time and again putting them into the Malvern 22 metre area, but apart from giving away an early penalty score, the Spring Lane men put in a superb defensive shift.
With the constant rain making conditions extremely difficult, they held up all that OEs could throw at them as they soaked up endless pressure in the first 20 minutes.
Malvern struggled to get out of their own half, but when the referee blew for half time, they turned round with renewed vigour as they could sense that the game could be theirs for the taking.
With George Roberts off with a shoulder injury, Adam Dixon came on at fly half Essenhigh moved to the wing and Joe Budd went to scrum half.
And the changes paid off immediately as Malvern forced a line out in the OEs 22, the ball was shipped back to Fleming and he strode through to score and take the lead.
Malvern got into their stride as a slick move saw Essenhigh zip through to score under the posts and Ben King’s conversion put Malvern two scores ahead.
King then dispatched a penalty to make it 15-3 and the hosts’ backs seemed hungry for more as they harried and tackled, keeping the visitors penned down in their own half.
Skipper Milton went over to put the game beyond the visitors and immediately after conceding a soft try they scored their fourth of the afternoon.
Tom Hale chased the restart kick and forced a turnover before was quickly recycled and Dixon put Fleming away for his second try with the last move of the afternoon.