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By Liam Moakes Tuesday 11 December 2012 Updated: 12/12 16:16
Evesham 16 Pershore 26
Midlands Three West (South)
PERSHORE surrendered home advantage for Saturday's eagerly anticipated local derby as Evesham's Avonside pitches were in better condition, but the 'visitors' rose to the challenge to seal victory thanks to a Martin Hope hat-trick of tries.
Although Pershore were missing a few forwards through injury and unavailability, they were still able to put out a pack who were far bigger and more physical than their opponents.
However, from the first whistle, Evesham intelligently avoided the Pershore forwards and used their pacy backs to secure field position.
Within a few minutes Evesham opened the scoring. A break in the centres looked certain to deliver a try, but an excellent cover tackle prevented the home side from crossing the whitewash.
Pershore did infringe at the ruck and Evesham's Diston slotted the penalty before he extended the lead with another penalty following another infringement.
At this stage things were not going well for Pershore. Their scrum was solid but they struggled to steal any of the Evesham lineout and the home back row were certainly winning the early battles for the ball on the floor.
It was from a turnover that the Evesham winger crossed the whitewash after a well worked move in which the hosts took advantage of some poor Pershore defending.
With 30 minutes gone Evesham looked comfortable but Pershore then started to play with some intelligence of their own.
Using the big forwards like Hope, Grace and Peel to carry the ball into the heart of the home defence, Pershore started to control phases of play.
From a lineout deep in the Evesham 22, Pershore's pack marched their opponents backwards over the line and prolific scoring number 8 Hope scored his first try of the day which Lewis Dolphin converted to cut the visitors' arrears to 11-7 at the break.
The second half started as the first half had ended as the Pershore pack increased the physicality at both the set piece and the breakdown.
The scrum went particularly well as the Evesham pack struggled to win their own ball. However, the home defence was resolute until the introduction of Rich Baker in the centre gave the Pershore back line more penetrative options along with his new centre partner Steve Holmes.
Hayes kicked intelligently from fly half, continuously putting his forwards on the front foot. The scrum earned Pershore their second try as Hope crashed over for his second to give Pershore a 12-11 lead.
Just when Evesham's scrum looked like it could not take much more, Pershore made two changes at prop and the fresh legs certainly increased the momentum.
With 15 minutes left another clever kick from Hayes was chased down. The Evesham winger was forced into an uncharacteristic error and scrum half Dolphin was the first to pounce on the loose ball and score a try which he converted.
With five minutes left the Pershore pack forced the Evesham scrum to crumble in front of them and Hope dotted down his hat-trick score which Dolphin again converted to seal victory.
Evesham did manage to break from deep to score a last-gasp try but it was not enough to change the outcome of the game as Pershore ran out worthy winners and secured a bonus point in the process.
Third placed Pershore visit Ledbury tomorrow and Evesham will look to bounce back when they host Southam.
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