MALVERN got the new year off to the perfect start with a narrow 37-31 success at fellow Midlands Two West (South) promotion rivals Kenilworth.
The Spring Lane side started well, recycling the ball and taking play to the hosts but it was the Warwickshire side who scored first with a penalty.
The game was played at such a high tempo, giving the large crowd plenty of entertainment.
And as Malvern went on the attack, a pass was intercepted by Gaz Renowden who seized on the opportunity to run through and increase Kenilworth’s lead with a converted try.
But Malvern responded immediately, pouncing on a loose ball which allowed Luke Milton to score as the visitors went into the break 10-5 down.
After the interval it was Kenilworth who scored first, winning a scrum before opening up Malvern’s defence to stretch the lead to 12 points.
But once again Rob Cook’s Malvern responded as they took the ball into home territory and won a penalty and subsequent line-out.
A controlled catch and drive then allowed Glen Potter to touch down and close the gap.
As Malvern took control of the game, they won another penalty 45 metres out which Cook slotted over to pull the visitors to within four points of Kenilworth.
With their tails up, Malvern moved the ball well into the Kenilworth to claim another penalty and set-up a catch and drive for Liam Roleston to cross the whitewash with Cook converting.
Tom Hale was next to go over, with Cook again kicking the extras as the visitors moved into a ten-point lead.
However, Kenilworth would not lie down and they bagged two converted tries to retake the lead with time running out.
Finding themselves four points behind, Malvern drew on their reserves and replied in style as the ball was swept out wide to Hale who scorched through for his second try of the game.
Cook’s conversion then gave Malvern a three-point lead going into the dying embers.
A drop goal from Cook then all-but secured the points but Malvern were given a late scare when Kenilworth came agonisingly close to bundling over.
However, Malvern’s defence stood firm and were rather relieved to hear the final whistle.
The result ensured second-placed Malvern opened up a ten-point gap over third-placed Kenilworth.
Malvern now welcome mid-table Leamington to Spring Lane on Saturday (2.15pm KO).