SORRY Malvern failed to avoid a second successive relegation as battling Berkswell & Balsall came storming back to snatch a 31-26 victory in a pulsating encounter at Spring Lane.
Nick Tisdale’s men appeared to be on course for an impressive win in Midlands One West as Tom Hale struck twice to steer his side into a 26-7 lead at half time.
With the four-try bonus point also in the bag, the hosts would have been hoping to see out the victory, which would have kept their survival hopes alive.
But Malvern, who were relegated from National Three South West last season, were unable to hang on as the visitors clawed their way back before Mark Galpin went over late on to seal their fate.
After crashing to a 50-15 defeat to bottom club Market Bosworth last week, Malvern were left needing nine points from their remaining two games to avoid dropping into Midlands Two.
They appeared to be rising to the challenge as they recovered from an early Berkswell try to score through Hale in the 20th minute. This was then followed by two further tries as Richard Preece added a second before Jack Conney finished off a superb attacking move.
Adam Dixon added the conversion to put the home side in control as they led 19-7. The visitors, meanwhile, were struggling to come to terms with Malvern’s rampant backs as Hale dived over on the stroke of half time.
However, Berkswell eventually recognised Malvern’s Achilles heel as they began to dominate the scrum in the second half. This laid the platform for Sam Bignal and Oliver Flint to go over to get the Warwickshire side within seven points.
Malvern appeared to be doing enough to hold out, but when Phil Snare saw yellow with ten minutes left Berkswell took full advantage as Galpin scored twice to silence the home fans.
However, head coach Tisdale, who side travel to Kenilworth on Saturday, remained upbeat about Malvern’s chances of bouncing back.
“Had we been able to field experienced props we would, I’m sure, have been comfortably mid-table or higher,” he said.
“As it is, we have to take relegation on the chin and rebuild next season. With good youngsters coming through and a few new players recruited, I am optimistic about the future of the club.”