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Alcester battle past Bromyard to chalk up fifth consecutive Midlands Three West (South) victory

ALCESTER fought hard in their first game of 2022 by coming from behind to come out triumphant and extend their winning streak to five games.

Jack Green goes on one of his powerful runs. Photo: Paul O'Sullivan
Jack Green goes on one of his powerful runs. Photo: Paul O'Sullivan

In a closely fought battle away at Bromyard, neither side looked rusty after time off for the festive period, with both sides stringing together some nice pieces of play before the visitors hung on for a 22-18 victory.

The game started shakily for Alcester after first-team captain Max Biltcliffe was forced from the field early one due to a blood injury. The Red and Blacks then missed the opportunity to take the lead through a penalty.

Dwayne Cruickshank then went down injured with a niggling shoulder injury and was replaced by Biltcliffe who had managed to control his bloody nose.

Against the atmosphere of the game, a man from either side was yellow-carded after an altercation on the floor, but the match hadn’t shown signs of any feistiness prior to the incident.

Bromyard took the lead through a penalty kick and put the first points on the board after 25 minutes of play.

Alcester made several promising looking breaks, but struggled to control their passing to the final man who would find the ball thrown too high or out of reach to control.

The ball was passed nicely through hands to Lewis Walker on the wing and he made a dive for the line, but was held up over the whitewash. Several more attempts and spilt passes were played until Alcester had a line-out on their 5m line.

Matt Johnson neatly collected the ball in the air, dominating the game’s line-outs, before the passage of play turned into a driving maul. Alcester’s forwards pushed their side over the line as Biltcliffe collapsed on the ball at the bottom of the pile to score the game’s first try. Ed Gough added the extras.

Alcester’s lead was short-lived as Bromyard were quick to retaliate. They moved play back up the opposite end of the pitch and gained a penalty in the red zone. It was taken quickly, which caught Alcester’s defence off guard, enabling them to score. The conversion was successful.

Bromyard camped on Alcester’s line for the remainder of the half and their period of pressure ended in a penalty. They opted for the posts and successfully slotted it over to put an end to a long 50-minute half.

Bromyard were quick off the mark in the second half. They danced through several missed tackles and extended their lead. Despite the conversion being directly in front of the posts, the kicker put it wide to the surprise of the supporters.

The game perhaps looked worrying for Alcester now as the home side appeared strong. Despite winning only one game this season, Bromyard’s league position was not reflective of the game they play.

However, less than five minutes later James Hibbard scored Alcester’s second try, but the vital conversion points was missed.

The game levelled out for about 15 minutes with both sides playing some nice rugby, but the greasy and wet conditions of the pitch meant players were slipping and balls were spilt, but luckily further rain held off.

Jack Green made several powerful runs and he broke the defence to run clear before off-loading to Walker who scored in the corner. The touchline conversion was narrowly missed, meaning there was just one point in it at 18-17.

Alcester had the chance to take the lead through a penalty but the pressure of the close game was too much and the kick went wide of the uprights.

From the restart, after several phases the ball made its way to Walker who whizzed down the far wing to score his second. The conversion was missed, but Alcester had crept ahead with the referee calling just three minutes remaining on the clock.

Bromyard weren’t giving up without a fight and took play deep into Alcester’s half to see what they could attain from the final minutes of the game. A scrum on the 5m line was reset several times. The home side were awarded two penalties, but opted for the scrum again as a penalty kick wouldn’t secure them the game.

The visitors were warned that another penalty in the red zone could potentially lead to a penalty try to Bromyard. The scrum was then reset several more times until Will Mitchell had to leave the pitch with a neck injury.

This forced the game, that was near it’s 100th minute, to uncontested scrums. Bromyard put the ball in and scooped it out to the backs, they made a few passes before the ball was fumbled which elicited cheers from Alcester and groans from the home support.

Josh O’Connor scooped the ball off the ground and had a clear path towards his own try line, but decided to put everyone’s nerves to rest and kicked the ball into touch to signal the end of the game.

Alcester are at home to Burbage on Saturday (2.15pm kick-off).

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