Midlands West 1

Whitchurch 26

Longton 3

Whitchurch coach Scott Sturdy believes his side were much-improved in their comfortable home win over Longton on Saturday.

The Reds won their first clash of 2019 against Hereford last week but Sturdy admitted he felt his side had been under-par.

However, the head coach was much happier with his side’s display against a team that could have caused Whitchurch problems at Edgeley Park.

“We were a lot better than we were against Hereford; I would class it as a 7 out of 10,” said Sturdy.

“Longton have made significant improvements; they are one of the biggest teams in the league, but we defended well collectively.

“Attacking-wise, we’re getting back to where we want to be. We created chances, scored four tries, but probably left another three on the pitch.”

Whitchurch started strongly, exerted some early pressure close to the Longton line, but spurned a couple of good opportunities to touch down.

The Staffordshire visitors then came into the game and, after a spell of pressure themselves, opted to kick a penalty from in front of the posts to get their noses in front.

But the home side launched a swift riposte, scoring the first of their four tries when, as they moved from right to left, fly half Danny Nicholas sent a grubber kick through a defender’s legs for wing Matt Davies to touch down in the corner. Nicholas added the conversion.

A second try soon followed when Henry Hockenhull intercepted on halfway and there was no stopping the inside centre as he raced over under the posts, Nicholas again kicking the extras for a 14-3 interval lead.

The Reds tightened their grip with two more tries after the break, the first when No. 8 Jake Rees picked up and set up the base for the ball to be spun out for outside centre Luca Owen-Youens to cross in the right corner for an unconverted score.

A fourth try, and bonus point, came when Nicholas flicked an inside pass for Davies to cut in and score his second of the game, with Nicholas converting.

Forwards Jack Furnvival and Jake Dodwell both missed last weekend, but a number of players are now back in the frame, including scrum half Joe Mullock and centre Mike Gardiner along with forwards Tom Wellsbury and Jed Towers.

Next up for the Reds is Malvern.

Malvern were beaten 37-8 at Edgeley Park back in September, and have just two wins this term.

So Whitchurch can justifiably head to Worcestershire in confident mood after dispatching Longton who arrived three matches unbeaten.