MALVERN had a point to prove in this match, having conceded their first Midlands Two West defeat away to Stafford in the autumn.


The visitors obviously thought they could put in a repeat performance, starting strongly and taking play to the home side. Malvern soaked up the pressure until the 12th minute, when Stafford's tricky New Zealand centre Begbie broke through to score and Mottershead converted.

Malvern began to put the squeeze on the Stafford pack in the tight, turning the scrum on their put-in to gain the advantage.

Eastwood was released and powered his way over the line, but the ball was adjudged to be held up. Malvern started to play open, expansive rugby, no mean feat on a cold, wet day.

Tom Green made a superb 20th minute break through the middle and popped the ball to his right, Steve Ott received the final pass to score in the corner. Longley's kick just faded, but Malvern had posted a notice of intent.

Malvern began attacking Stafford head on. Nigel Richardson and his back row colleagues took the ball on repeatedly, scrum half Julien Davies snapped round the edges of rucks and then put King into the playmaker's spotlight. The Aussie stand-off rang the changes, Eastwood and Major in the centre were at their trickiest and Ott and Green looked hungry on the wings. In the 27th minute, Malvern won a line-out and the ball found its way to Eastwood, who powered his way through to score a fine try. Longley converted.

Stafford put in some huge driving mauls to try and regain lost ground, but Malvern turned the ball over and Eastwood again used his strength to go over, Longley converting. The full-back then put over a penalty on the stroke of half-time for a 22-7 lead.

The second half saw Malvern continue to move the ball around. Smith looked solid and Lancett showed some delicate touches, although not whilst engaging in a debate which saw him and a visitor sent for a 10-minute rest.

The Malvern forwards went on a rampage which culminated in Eastwood's hat-trick and Longley's conversion. Having brought all replacements on, Malvern lost a little rhythm but balance was restored when Hynes battered his way through the Stafford pack, Davies passed to King, who chipped the ball ahead and collected it to run in one of the finest individual efforts seen at Spring Lane. Longley converted.