DIRECTOR of rugby David Irish has praised winger Laurie Essenhigh who marked his Malvern first-team debut with a maiden try.

Irish was delighted with the discipline shown by Malvern in a hard-fought 20-14 win at Old Leamingtonians in Midlands Two West (South) last weekend.

And the former Ludlow coach is demanding another composed display from his Malvern charges tomorrow against Old Yardleians at Spring Lane.

Yards were promoted into the division last season and have always been tough opponents for Malvern.

“It’s a tribute to the older members that their belief in Malvern hasn’t waned and we look forward to a far better season,” said Irish.

“I was delighted with the mix of old and new players, and of course with Essie’s debut showing – he is a real talent who we can nurture for the future.

“He also gives us flexibility, as James Southall is a proven scorer on the wing as well as a scrum half, while Ollie Rayner showed flashes of brilliance at stand-off, especially as Adam Dixon is unavailable due to school duties.”

“The lads thoroughly deserved to take the points against a good Old Leamingtonians side.

“I was pleased with our scrummaging and the backs showed pace and threat throughout the game.”

Irish thought Malvern’s forwards were outstanding at Old Leamingtonians, with former Tenbury player George Withers, a useful addition.

“Our pack, with Craig Freeman and George Withers up front with Grant Fraser and Charles Rambridge, gives us a solid platform for our mobile back row forwards to get into the mix, while Dave Smith and Adam Green add grunt in the second row,” said Irish.

He was also delighted with another newcomer, Ben King, who shone with the boot for lower-graded Tenbury last season.

Irish said: “Ben King shows enough to suggest he will be comfortable at this level, and Richard Fleming’s experience as a line-breaker at inside centre will give many defences some trouble.”

Irish felt Malvern could have beaten Old Leamingtonians by a bigger margin and says the side have been sharpening up their skills ahead of tomorrow’s clash.

“We perhaps should have scored a few more points but training and more game time will eliminate some of the basic errors,” said Irish.