Brave Pats clean up in Everest Road mudbath
OLD PATESIANS 32 MALVERN 12
OLD Patesians conquered the driving rain, cloying mud and gale force wind to rack up a tremendous bonus-points victory in National League Three South West.
This was a rearranged match and the visitors were reluctant to play on the Everest Road pitch, which had been transformed into a bog after heavy overnight rain.
The decision was left to referee Simon Lane, who after a lengthy pitch inspection declared the match could proceed if the standing water was removed.
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A gallant band of supporters and players forked and brushed with great energy.
With the match official happy for the match to go ahead, Pats kicked off down the slope.
The referee must have some early misgivings about his decision because from the moment he blew his whistle to start the game, the heavens opened and again rain lashed down from nearby Leckhampton Hill.
Pats are mudlarks are heart, seemingly revelling in the sticky conditions underfoot, and within two minutes they had been awarded two penalty scrums in the Malvern red zone and number eight Henry Tapsell showed good control at the back of the drive to claim the pushover try.
Pats' tight five forwards were magnificent throughout, with the front row of skipper James King, Connor Thompson and hooker Joe Shelton assured and confident on their own feed.
The second row engine room of James Stickland and Paul Bennett generated the power and momentum to shove Malvern off their own ball whenever they had the mind to.
Pats' new half-back pairing of James Butler and Brett Turner slotted into their roles with seamless efficiency and despite the appalling conditions gave their mates in the three-quarter line plenty of ball to have a crack at the Malvern defence.
Pats' back row, still short of first picks Paul Scott and Josh Stevens, were well served by flankers Dom Redbourne and Heath Gunther, who along with Tapsell formed an impressive triumvirate in both attack and defence.
It was Redbourne who stole lineout ball at the tail and set up and catch and drive for hooker Shelton to claim his first try of the season in the first team.
Pats second row Bennett was on his debut outing for the first XV and after serving a long apprenticeship in the second team he was mightily impressive.
Safe in the lineout and strong in the scrummaging department, he matched Stickland and Tapsell with route one carries and strong tackles.
He played a key role in a 20-metre drive which allowed Butler to sneak over a for a try converted by Turner.
By now, so atriocious were the conditions the players were only recognisible by their body shapes and positions.
Tapsell was in his element at the tail of the scrum and picked up his second try and a bonus point to give Pats a 22-0 lead at half-time.
Relegation contenders Malvern gave Pats a real test after the break and scored a try through Tom Hale.
Acclimatised to the conditions, playing into the teeth of the wind and rain, Pats scored again through Butler.
Malvern soldiered on and grabbed another try through Antonio Harris, converted by Nathan Dujford, but Pats sealed the win when Tapsell completed his hat-trick.
Old Patesians: C Kerr, W Kane, L Taylor, S Taylor, D Burrows, B Turner, J Butler, J King, J Shelton, C Thompson, J Stickland, P Bennett, H Gunther, H Tapsell, D Redbourn. Replacements (all used): R White, T Langton, D Spurrier.
Malvern: L Milton, J Southall, N Miller, R Watkins, T Hale, T Longley, R Redfern, J Cosgrove, A Harris, S Cooper, D Smith, M Williams, I Mustow, S Clark, E Garbett. Replacements (all used): N Clark, N Brooks, N Dunford.
Referee: S Lane (Devon and Wiltshire Society)
Star man: Pats second row Paul Bennett