Claverdon 44 Atherstone 17
Warwickshire Vase semi-final
FRESH from their impressive league win against Burbage, Claverdon produced an excellent performance on Sunday to power into a third successive Warwickshire Vase final.
A sunny day and fast pitch was exactly what Claverdon were looking for against a side predominantly known for having a forward pack who keep the ball tight, but it took until the second half for the Lions to put the outcome beyond doubt.
Claverdon were their own worst enemy in a tight first half as they conceded a lot of penalties which gave Atherstone easy territory for a lot of the half.
Atherstone struck first with a good try in the opening minutes when they scored after a couple of phases through the forwards before spinning the ball wide.
Claverdon were quick to respond and scored a drop goal a couple of minutes later off a penalty advantage.
The rest of the half was mainly Claverdon, although Atherstone did score another penalty, but play was generally dominated by the Lions who scored two tries before the half was up through James Barton whose try count for the season is ever-growing.
Atherstone scored another penalty though to ensure they reached the break just 15-14 down.
The second half was a completely different story. Atherstone did score an early penalty to take the lead but this was not held for long as Claverdon became far superior in terms of fitness and skill for the rest of the game.
Lots of running rugby and wide play allowed Claverdon to run in a multitude of tries. Scott Alford was the first to pounce, which opened the floodgates as tries from Sam Turrell, Charlie Byrd, James Kirby and Nick Green followed.
Overall it was a good game for Claverdon but they will have to dramatically reduce their penalty count if they want to win the final against Bedworth, who have twice edged to victory against the Lions in the league this season.
Having lost the final for the past two seasons, the Lions are determined to go one better on Sunday, March 18 (2.15pm).
Fifth-placed Claverdon resume Midlands Four West (South) action at Coventrians on March 10.
Report compiled by Charlie Byrd.