MALVERN were edged out 24-18 by leaders Droitwich in a Midlands Two West (South) top of the table clash on Saturday.
On a bitter, greasy afternoon, the long-awaited clash between the Worcestershire rivals had plenty to warm up the large crowd on touchline at the Glyn Mitchell Memorial Ground.
For the first half hour honours were fairly even with Malvern probing away at Droitwich’s defence which held firm against wave after wave of attack.
Heartening for the Spring Lane side was that in the set scrums the addition at tight head of Kai Allton gave them plenty of stability, so the big Droitwich unit was unable to drive Malvern back.
Against the run of play it was the Salt Boys who scored first with winger Brad Cook kicking and chasing to the corner for an unconverted try.
A late knee drop from Droitwich gave Malvern a penalty as the visitors forced a five-metre lineout after a sin binning for yet another home offence.
Two more penalties followed before Jon Bywater touched down with Rob Cook converting as Malvern had a slender 7-5 lead at half time.
After the break Droitwich’s indiscipline carried on as they continued to offend with a tackle on a man without the ball to give Cook a fairly simple penalty to stretch Malvern’s lead.
The hosts then decided to revert to their normal game plan and put in a tremendous driving maul with Brad Cook crossing to give his side a two-point lead.
This did not last long as from the restart Cook put the ball deep with the Malvern pack before the clearance was charged down by Bywater who claimed his second try of the game.
However, Droitwich showed why they were top when they won another penalty and put in another catch and drive which allowed Rob Poke to touch down.
Malvern refused to capitulate and, after winning another penalty, Cook nosed Malvern into a slender one-point lead with time running out.
It was Droitwich who had the final say as another driving maul from a penalty gave James Shewell the chance to touch down, with Bobby Scott-Walker converting.
The result ensured Droitwich opened a six-point gap over Malvern, who have a weekend off before playing host to Earlsdon a week on Saturday.