North Midlands Shield Final
Aston Old Edwardians 13 Droitwich 29
Sunday 15th May 2011
Aston Old Edwardians 13 Droitwich 29
Despite matching Droitwich’s two tries, Aston lost out 29-13 in the Final of the North Midlands Shield. Droitwich took advantage of their forward strength to force kickable penalties, and with fly-half Bobby Scott-Walker in impressive form, these became costly for Aston, and ultimately his 19 points with the boot proved to be the decisive factor.
Aston started strongly, and had the best of the opening exchanges, using rolling mauls to gain territory. After just 3 minutes Droitwich were penalised, and with 10 yards added for backchat, Rob Chesner attempted to open the scoring from close to the touchline, but his kick dropped narrowly wide. It was 8 minutes before Droitwich made their first foray into the Aston half, but a fine clearance from scrum-half Mitchell quickly took play back into the Droitwich 22. Droitwich began to gain the ascendancy in the set piece, and it was from a disrupted scrum after 15 minutes that the first try came. After piecing together several phases of play, the Aston defence was stretched and as the ball was moved left the industrious hooker Rob Poke was on hand to burst through a gap and score from 15 metres out. Scott-Walker added the conversion.
Droitwich followed up by forcing another penalty, which was narrowly missed, and then by breaking out of their own 22 and almost scoring in the corner – only a desperate cover tackle from winger Darren Gardner preventing the score. A further penalty from Scott-Walker 3 minutes later extended the lead to 10-0 after 37 minutes. Straight from the restart, Droitwich scored their 2nd try of the game, when the impressive No 8, Phil Horton galloped in from 60 yards when he broke through the flat Aston defence and outpaced the cover. With Scott-Walker having the simplest of conversions, Droitwich had established a 17 point lead, and things were looking bleak for Aston.
With half-time looming Aston forced a penalty of their own, and Fly-half Rob Chesner converted from 30 yards to bring the score back to 17-3.
Tom McNamee and Jules Phipps entered the fray for the second period, with No 8 Mike Goodwin moving to the front row in an attempt to counter the Droitwich forward domination. This appeared to pay immediate dividends, as a McNamee break was taken on by Martin Franklin, and then by Lea Ross only for the hooker to be tackled a yard short of the line. From almost the next phase of play, a Phipps line out take saw Goodwin drive on, and when he was tackled short, second row Mick Tate was on hand to pick up the loose ball and drive low and hard over the try-line. Just 5 minutes later, and with Aston taking the game to Droitwich, Aston scored their second try, again though Tate. Another McNamee break was taken on by Gardner, and Tate was again on hand to gather and drive over from close range, to reduce the arrears to 17-13.
The Droitwich scrum was still causing Aston problems, and they forced another penalty 5 minutes later, and Scott-Walker made no mistake from 40 yards out. He repeated the exercise 6 minutes later to stretch the lead to 23-13, and then kicked a further 6 points in the closing stages with yet another penalty and a neatly taken drop-goal.
Aston used all of their replacements, giving Darren Hamilton and Darren Morris well deserved cup final appearances after they had given unstinting support, often from the bench, in the second half of the season.
Overall, Droitwich thoroughly deserved their victory, whilst Aston can be pleased with the manner in which they came back after looking down and out, and happy in the knowledge that the defeat was in no way due to any lack of commitment, endeavour or effort.