Five important points...
Perfect playing conditions...
The team must be particularly attracted to playing in Kent with another bonus point win following a similar result against Sidcup in September.
Playing conditions were perfect with bright sunshine and a fresh wind but this was totally different to the disappointing performance at Guildford last week. The team benefitted by the return of Richy McIver as skipper and the inclusion of three younger players, Michael Dunnett, Nathan Taylor and David Graham, all whom put in impressive performances, particularly in the tackle.
Shelford looked purposeful and made a strong start from the kick-off , immediately threatening the Westcombe Park line with Charlie Parkhouse almost scoring in the 4th minute after collecting a clever chip from Mike Gillick..
Westcombe Park took up the challenge and came back strongly winning a penalty in front of the posts on 10 minutes but missed. They kept up the pressure and had a “try” disallowed after a clear forward pass. They continued to attack across the field and recycled well but were denied any scoring opportunities by superb Shelford tackling
Shelford forwards regained possession, driving deep into Westcombe Park territory and were rewarded with a penalty and Josh Simmons bagging the points . 0 - 3.
From the kick-off, Simon Hrbek collected and made an excellent clearance kick deep into the Westcombe Park half. The ball was won in the loose, lost and then won back. Mike Gillick broke to the left, offloaded to Josh Simmons who passed inside for Charlie Parkhouse to score. 0 - 8. Shelford continued to press and a very promising break was called back for “crossing”.
Warrick Anderson went down injured and was replaced by Dave Graham. At half time the score was Westcombe Park 0 – Shelford 8.
At the restart, with the wind behind them, Shelford piled on the pressure. The ball was stolen and cleared into the Westcombe Park half. The ensuing maul was exploited to the full and Josh Simmons set up Charlie Parkhouse for his second try, duly converted by Josh Simmons. 0 – 15.
Westcombe Park came back even stronger with wave after wave of attacks on the Shelford try line only to be denied by ferocious Shelford tackling. One stand-out, try saving tackle was from Michael Dunnett (at one stage there were three Westcombe Park players on the ground awaiting attention from the over-stretched physio).
Shelford weathered this storm and counter attacked into the Westcombe Park half. Westcombe Park infringed and Simon Hrbek narrowly missed the ensuing penalty from the half-way line. However, Shelford won possession from the drop-out, Richy McIver made a penetrating break,slick hands from newby Harry Jones leading to an off-load from Michael Dunnett who set up Jamie Beswick to score. 0 - 20.
Westcombe Park were not about to concede defeat and threw everything at Shelford, but every move was met with determined Shelford defence. Charlie Baker was then yellow carded for hands in the ruck.
Shelford counter-attacked but a promising move broke down as possession was lost to the Westcombe Park 14 who broke out of his own half to score under the posts. 7 - 20. Tony Begovic now came on as a replacement for Jamie Beswick.
The Westcombe Park pressure was unrelenting as was the Shelford defence. Shelford survived a close call when a pass was dropped close to the try line but a poor clearance kick was collected by Westcombe Park who exploited their overlap, went wide and scored. 14 - 20.
Shelford then regained the initiative and exerted massive pressure on from the forwards resulting in a bonus point try for Teddy Hepworth converted by Josh Simmons . 14 – 27.
A well deserved win for Shelford against a side who looked much better than their position in the league table would indicate,
Two interesting comments from Westcombe Park after the game.
“Shelford definitely deserved that win”
“Shelford’s tackling is the best we have seen all season”.