Claverdon 3 Evesham 20
Midlands Four West (South)
EVESHAM secured a potentially decisive victory in the quest for promotion as they saw off their main rivals Claverdon in impressive fashion on Saturday.
This was a first home league defeat of the season for the Lions and secured Evesham the league double over the Ossetts Hole Lane side, but more importantly moved the second placed Vale outfit four points clear of third placed Claverdon with just five matches to play, whilst leaders Rugby Lions continue to boast a 100 per cent record at the summit.
The home crowd, buoyed by VPs day, were in high spirits and keen to roar Claverdon on to victory, but Evesham had other ideas.
After winning the toss Evesham opted to play against the elements in the first half and knew playing uphill for the first 40 minutes was going to be tough, but they took on the challenge.
Indiscipline in the early encounters due to over-eagerness meant Evesham trailed 3-0 after five minutes to James Williams’ penalty.
If anything, this gave Evesham the wake-up call they needed and they instantly hit back.
The visitors established early dominance at the set piece and used this to control field position and possession.
Despite the home side’s impressive defensive efforts, Fraser Goggin managed to elude his tackler and wriggle over midway through the first half and the score remained 7-3 until half time following Michael Harris’ successful conversion.
Evesham aimed to play the second half deep in Claverdon territory to continue to take the sting out of their boisterous crowd and solid game management from Harris and scrum half Dan Humpston ensured Evesham could set up camp and increase the pressure.
As the second half continued the set piece dominance continued and Evesham’s scrum began to power through their opponents, even having a 20m shove at one point.
All this pressure deep in Claverdon’s territory allowed Humpston to cross for a converted score and the outcome was put beyond doubt when two more penalties – awarded at the scrum and slotted over by full back Sam Hopkins – sealed victory.
Evesham, whose next league game is at home to bottom placed Coventrians on February 21, are now in pole position to claim the second promotion place as they have a favourable run-in compared to Claverdon, who still have to host Rugby Lions.
This Saturday Evesham visit Cleobury Mortimer in their RFU Junior Vase Midlands semi-final, bidding to secure a victory which would set up a Midlands final against Rugby Lions as the road to Twickenham continues.