GALLERY: Stratford lose out to Malvern by a single point for second time this season
Stratford 12-13 Malvern
Regional Two West Midlands
FOR the second time this season Stratford came up short against high-flying Malvern.
The Black and Whites had lost the reverse fixture 21-20 back in September and were on the wrong side of a 13-12 scoreline at Pearcecroft on Saturday, as the Worcestershire visitors chalked up a ninth straight win.
The early parts of the game saw both sides working out where strengths and weaknesses were to be gambled on.
Malvern had a strong pack and the ball rarely found its way out wide. Following a penalty, they kicked to the corner and set up a driving maul to touch down for a converted try.
Now in the game, Stratford applied the pressure but oddly received a yellow card for an infringement at a ruck while clearly in possession of the ball.
Undeterred, the home side immediately hit back with their own game plan of adding pace to the back line and width of the Pearcecroft pitch to allow talismanic winger Dan Whitby to score.
Again Malvern used their pack to set up a kickable penalty to send them into a 10-5 lead at half-time.
The second half began with Stratford trying to pierce holes in the Malvern defence, sadly the accuracy in the final phases was the difference.
Following a strong few phases, the ball found Whitby out wide to beat the defence and score close to the posts, giving fly-half Gwil Davis a safe conversion.
Malvern hit back with numerous phases of forward strength but Stratford's defence held out.
With the Pearcecroft men back on the front foot, a further decision and yellow card was shown to inside centre Nathan Geekie.
More pressure from the visitors was robustly held at bay with the back row making huge tackles, equally supported by the rest of the pack.
However, following a further infringement, Malvern's fly-half decided to take on a tricky penalty kick, which he duly converted to break Stratford hearts.
The Black and Whites make the trip to league leaders Old Halesonians on Saturday.