Midlands Four West (South)
Claverdon 33-19 Birmingham Civil Service
DESPITE missing nine first-team regulars and having to field a number of 2nd XV players, Claverdon came away from their home clash against newly-promoted Birmingham Civil Service on Saturday with a bonus-point victory.
Civil Service started brightly, but after ten minutes of constant pressure in the Lions half, they could only chalk up three points after converting a penalty.
With the visitors proving unsuccessful from the line-outs, Ed Smith took advantage by making great yards up the pitch before recycling the ball to Josh Evans, who then found stand-in captain Steve Grimsley to burst through with pace and score in the corner.
Johnson’s conversion was pushed wide. Claverdon extended their lead to 8-3 shortly after when Johnson converted a penalty from in front of the posts after strong running from Ally Norman and Scott Alford.
Civil Service responded well and constant Claverdon indiscipline saw the visitors move to five metres from the try line.
Even the strong Lions defence wasn’t enough to keep out the visitors going over in the corner for an unconverted try, leaving the game all square at 8-8.
Claverdon hit back once again, with Smith capitalising on a poor line-out to sprint all the way through for a brilliant individual try.
The conversion was missed.
Civil Service’s response was almost immediate, as the big runners worked the ball forward before scoring in the corner for an unconverted try.
And just before the break Civil Service took a 16-13 lead when their fly half coolly converted another penalty.
After some rousing words of encouragement during the half-time break, the Lions came roaring out of the blocks and regained the lead when Ben Webster fed Grimsley to touch down in the corner for his second try of the match.
Johnson again missed the tricky conversion. Claverdon were now in the ascendancy and a fourth try, which secured the bonus point, soon followed.
A solid scrum gave a great platform for the backs to show their flare and eventually the ball made its way to Johnson, who used his strength to score in the corner.
He then added the extras to put Claverdon 25-16 ahead.
Civil Service enjoyed the majority of the possession for the next ten minutes and they went on to score their only three points of the half with a penalty from close range.
Smith also picked up a yellow card at a crucial time for the Lions, but this seemed to spur them on, as Johnson duly dispatched a penalty from out wide before Ryan Smith bundled over in the final minute of the game to complete the scoring.
The win sets the Lions up perfectly for Saturday’s RFU Junior Vase third round clash against Clee Hill (3pm kick-off).