5:50pm Monday 17th February 2014
PERSHORE clinched their first Midlands Three West (South) victory of 2014 with a 24-18 success at mid-table Southam.
After a string of postponements and a 19-7 defeat at title-chasing Pinley, Pershore warmed up well for Saturday's RFU Midlands Senior Vase semi-final with West Bridgford (2.15pm).
With a wet, heavy surface and a strong wind blowing down the pitch, the Southam trip was set up from the start to be a game dominated by the forwards, which fourth-from-bottom Pershore were better equipped for.
Their pack were dominant throughout, taking clear control of the set-piece and tackle area.
Although Pershore played into the wind and up the slope in the first-half, they dominated both territory and possession for prolonged periods.
Winger Ashley White got on the end of a blindside move to score in the corner but Pershore were soon behind.
The strong-running home centre broke Nick Creswick’s tackle and scored under the posts for a converted try.
However, this was the only time Pershore trailed and within five minutes they were back ahead.
A dropped pass in midfield was hacked forward by fly-half Adrian Hanson and centre Matt Cyphus was quickest to dive on the ball over the line.
Lewis Dolphin converted to give the visitors a 12-7 lead, which they extended a few minutes before half-time.
Strong running in midfield by Martin Hope and Karl Evans sucked in the hosts and the visitors then attacked the wider channel with flanker Greg Shaw breaking several tackles.
Shaw then produced the pass of the match to supporting prop Alex Peel, who ran in unopposed. Dolphin again converted to give Pershore a 19-7 interval lead.
The forward dominance continued in the second-half but Southam's defence were particularly resolute.
Pershore had plenty of opportunities to score with Cyphus and lock Toby Grace making significant breaks but they were tackled short of the line.
Southam kicked a penalty to close the gap but soon after the prolific Hope extended the lead.
From a scrum five metres out, Pershore's pack marched over as Southam's forwards crumbled under the pressure and Hope fell on the ball for an unconverted try.
Southam had a never-say-die attitude and tried desperately to get themselves back into the game but the Pershore back row of Hope, Josh Hardiman and Matt Baker covered every inch of grass.
The Warwickshire side closed the gap with 10 minutes left as White's outstretched arm narrowly missed an interception and his opposite winger enjoyed an easy run-in to score.
The conversion was missed but a late penalty meant Southam rescued a losing bonus point.
Home games for bottom-of-the-table Evesham and Bredon Star were both postponed due to waterlogged conditions.
Evesham visit Upton in a Worcestershire derby on Saturday, while Gloucester Division Two leaders Bredon host Broad Plain.
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