CHRIS Leatham starred with a hat-trick of tries as Whitchurch battled to a 28-21 victory at Malvern in Midlands One West

The centre broke the deadlock after slicing through the defence for the first score of the game with Jake Dodwell converting.

Malvern hit back almost immediately with a catch and drive and the scores were level.

The visitors then took total command and regained their lead with another try from Leatham converted by Dodwell.

The lead was stretched even further with Jake Rees releasing Leatham to complete his hat trick with Dodwell's conversion making the score 21-7.

A yellow card for Fergus Downes tipped the balance in the home side's favour as Malvern reduced the arrears and with seconds remaining of the first-half the hosts celebrated a third converted try to level the score.

Whitchurch started the second-half on a mission and one minute after returning from the sin bin, Downes made amends by scoring himself with Dodwell continuing his perfect kicking display with a fine conversion.

Malvern put everything into getting back on terms but the red wall stood firm and threatened to score again but had to satisfied with a 28-21 win.

Coach Noel Speed said: "The spirit within the club showed through.

"We ignored the injuries to key players and the youngsters who came in to the side showed the heart to fill those big boots.

"We remain in sixth place in the league but are closing the gap bit by bit."

Whitchurch host Newbold on Saturday, starting at 2.15pm.

Meanwhile the club's second string celebrated a 29-7 derby win at Oswestry IIs in the NOWIRUL The Right Broker Division Three South.

The first-half started slowly with neither side getting the better of the soggy pitch.

Jimmy Leedham's penalty kept Whitchurch in the hunt as Oswestry established a 7-3 lead before the visitors got to grips with the conditions and tries from Darren Blackhurst, Tom Wellesbury, Matt Grinley and Leedham were converted by Tom Skone to go top.

The second string host Lymm on Saturday with a 2.15pm kick-off.