DIRECTOR of rugby Dave Irish has insisted Malvern’s controversial 12-10 defeat to league leaders Old Laurentians has fuelled his players’ motivation to challenge them for the title.
Nathan Dunford had the chance to claim a dramatic draw for his side at Spring Lane after Nick Clarke went over in the dying moments.
But, even before he had moved his feet to take the conversion, two Laurentians players set off to charge down the kick before thumping the ball downfield.
Irish said he was left astounded when the referee decided against allowing Dunford the chance to retake the kick and instead blew the final whistle.
But the Malvern boss said he has now urged his players to turn it into a positive as they look to push on in Midlands Two West (South).
“In all my years of involvement in rugby I’ve never, ever, seen anything quite like that,” Irish said.
“But this just makes us more determined to get out there and win as many games as possible and we have the chance to level the scores later in the season when we travel to OLs for the return fixture.”
The controversial finish to the match also overshadowed Malvern’s performance as they threatened to end Old Laurentians’ ten-match unbeaten streak.
Despite conceding an early try, Malvern competed on equal terms throughout and soon hit back with a try of their own. The ball was quickly moved across the field and back again before Laurie Essenhigh ran in to score. The conversion was short as the score remained 7-5 to Old Laurentians for much of the match.
OLs’ game was largely based around their stand-off, who kicked superbly all day to give them good field positions, but every attack was repelled by Malvern’s fine defence as every player put his body on the line.
Even a broken nose to influential centre Ben King in the first half did not disrupt Malvern, who defended stoutly and also missed a great chance to take the lead just before the break.
The second half continued in the same manner, with both sides struggling for supremacy as OLs kicked deep and Malvern countered.
One of the hosts’ best move saw half backs Essenhigh and Adam Dixon combine to take their side into the away 22m area. However, a penalty was conceded as a Malvern player was adjudged to have entered the ruck from the side.
The Rugby-based team then broke the deadlock, with Dan O’Brien touching down for his second try.
As the game entered the final minutes, Malvern showed their fighting spirit as they drove deep into OLs’ territory, winning a penalty plus another ten metres after the visitors lost their discipline.
The ball was then moved out to Clarke on the wing and he hurtled through to score and set up the conversion kick which never came.