A DEPLETED Malvern side crashed out of the North Midlands Shield after being swept aside by Bridgnorth who booked their place in the final with a 34-0 victory on Saturday.
The Spring Lane side’s hopes of securing silverware suffered a series of setbacks even before match kicked-off at Bridge Street.
Director of rugby Dave Irish was forced to make eight changes to the team which thrashed Old Leamingtonians last month due to injuries and work commitments and Bridgnorth capitalised on this.
Despite the best efforts of Malvern, the hosts proved too strong as they built up a 17-0 lead by half time before adding three more tries in the second half.
Bridgnorth had already clinched the Midlands Two West (North) title and a trip to Twickenham where they will bidding to win the Intermediate Cup on Sunday.
However, they were still determined to triumph again as they laid siege to the Malvern try line for long periods. The visitors had their occasional foray out of defence, with Joe Wilkes showing his potential with several good carries from number eight.
Malvern College student Piers Morrell was also busy and effective in the back row along with Sam Parsons who was snuffing out dangerous Bridgnorth attacks.
However, the home side’s predatory nature was shown when they caught a Malvern up and under kick and countered swiftly for the left winger to score.
They soon doubled their advantage, again from a counter-attack after Malvern were forced into touch, but the away side were coming into the game more as time moved on.
After a Bridgnorth penalty, Wilkes moved to prop and the Malvern scrum looked far more stable, giving Laurie Essenhigh more ball to set up attacks.
With Adam Dixon pulling the strings at stand-off and Ollie Rayner making some good moves at centre, Malvern always looked like they were in the contest.
But Bridgnoth’s defence held firm as they continuously denied Malvern, who were desperate to get on the scoresheet, and their luck did not improve in the second half either.
The hosts were reduced to 14 men when one of their flankers saw yellow, but Malvern still could not break down a stubborn Bridgnorth defence.
As play switched to the Malvern half, Bridgnorth struck shortly after Wilkes was sin-binned. Penalties conceded were converted to scrummages and the powerful home pack finally got a pushover try.
Malvern again ran the ball into the home half and only some desperate defence by Bridgnorth kept them out, but the home side had the final say as a pass was intercepted and their number eight ran 65 metres to score.