Walsall 35, Malvern 30

Malvern's first visit to Delves Road saw a ding-dong battle with the hosts just shading the result after a nail-biting match which saw the lead change several times.

Malvern started in positive fashion, taking the play to Walsall with a fine forward drive and winning a free kick on the 22 metre line.

A nifty piece of play with some clever switch moves saw skipper Andy Longley join the play and cut through the defence to score, then convert to put Malvern in the driving seat after just three minutes. Walsall came back strongly but the Malvern defence held firm, soaking up the pressure and countering to win a penalty, which Longley planted from 40 metres out.

Walsall won a free kick which was quickly taken, the ball whipped out to winger Malcolm Walker who cut through the sparse Malvern cover to score in the 18th minute. Five minutes later David Butler, the home scrum-half, put over a penalty to narrow the gap to two points.

Intelligent kicking by Longley kept Walsall pinned back in their own half but the Staffordshire side forced three penalties in quick succession, gaining 60 metres in the process until hooker James Allen scored in the 35th minute.

Walsall continued in the same vein in the second period. Malvern repeatedly infringed, conceding territory and Gilbert punished them with a converted try then a penalty within four minutes of the restart.

Malvern kept their heads up and a clever Blakeway move put Paul Jenkin through to set up a converted try by Longley.

Malvern, their tails up, kept up the momentum and the forwards took a 5 metre scrum, lock Jon Owen burrowing through the massed defence to score near the corner, Longley converting.

Walsall again came back and Malvern's discipline was severely tested and centre Gareth Richards was sin-binned for a desperate tackle, adjudged to be high.

Walsall made the extra man advantage pay, stretching the Malvern defensive line for flanker Rod Dickson to score.

Butler was having problems with the boot, missing several kicks during the match which kept Malvern in contention.

Cooper joined Richards in the sin-bin and depleted Malvern conceded another try, from full back Richard Marsh.

Longley put over a penalty five minutes from time.

Malvern skipper Andy Longley was disappointed with the indiscipline which had ultimately cost them the chance of their first away points of the season.

"You cannot afford to be playing with thirteen men. We made a rod for our own backs which cost us the game," he said.

Malvern now face another tough hurdle with the visit of in-form Broad Street on Saturday.