ALCESTER head into the short break from rugby in high spirits after claiming their first win of 2019 at the weekend.
After four successive Midlands Three West (South) defeats, Alcester got back on track last Saturday with a confidence-boosting 39-21 victory over relegation-threatened Old Yardleians.
Alcester started the game enthusiastically and full of determination which saw Chris Howell cross over the line in the left corner within the first 90 seconds of the game and to complete the perfect start. Mat Ashby successfully kicked the extra points.
Lewis Walker was denied a 21st birthday gift as he was high tackled on his way to the line.
After a lengthy discussion with the opposite touch judge the ref awarded a penalty rather than the seven-point penalty try which both teams were expecting.
Alcester continued to dominate the game, showing particular strength in the scrum.
Old Yardleians were getting frustrated and their tackles were becoming more reckless in an attempt to stop the hosts advancing further.
This resulted in the visitors’ scrum half receiving ten minutes in the sin bin for another high tackle.
Minutes later Alcester were expecting to see their opponents go down to 13 men when it was thought there had been a deliberate knock-on as Alcester pressed towards the whitewash again.
The resulting scrum saw the ball fed out wide to full-back Jamie Harland for him to cross for his first try of the match.
A change in the kicker meant Max Biltcliffe added the conversion this time.
Within five minutes Alcester were adding to their lead.
A kick ahead by Ed Gough was chased by several Alcester players, but Jack Green was first to the ball to ground it over the line.
The conversion attempt rebounded off the posts.
However, Alcester were prevented from running away with the game as knock-ons and poor handling halted their continuous advances to the whitewash.
As well as leading the attacking front, Alcester also put on a strong defensive performance and were challenged with a period of sustained pressure on their own line.
This was the closest their opposition came to scoring in the first half, but despite their best efforts, their phase play was ended by a knock-on.
Winger Chris Howell and centre Ed Gough demonstrated a solid partnership and were consistently making ground on the left wing.
They gained back over half a pitch of territory between them to reinforce Alcester’s dominance.
A looping pass from Tommy Wright which received sighs of disapproval from the touch lines was skilfully collected by man-of-the-match Gough, who continued to read the game well and he was rewarded with his side’s fourth try.
Green looked to add to his try tally before half-time but was bought down in a bone-crunching big hit, but he was able to keep his composure and offload to Harland.
In the subsequent tackle, Alcester were awarded a penalty in front of the posts for the tackler not rolling away.
It was an easy three points which saw the hosts enter the break with a 27-0 lead. Half-time substitutions led to an upped intensity and aggression for the start of the second 40 minutes.
Old Yardlieans took control of the scrum and from the resulting phases they scored their first try.
Alcester retaliated and added another seven points through Harland’s second try and another Biltcliffe conversion.
In a scrappy battle to the line and through a heap of bodies Old Yardleians scored their second try of the game.
In the reprisals that followed, Green went on another infamous, powerful run and managed to hand-off three defenders before the ball made its way out to replacement winger Will Silk to conclude Alcester’s scoring.
Despite tight- head prop Tommy Wright receiving a yellow card in the closing stages of the game which allowed Old Yards the extra man to score their third try, Alcester came away victorious to cement eighth place.
Alcester return to action on Saturday, 2nd March away at league leaders Pinley.