Braintree 19 - 31 Shelford
Shelford win in the Braintree mud, a tough win, to complete the pool stage unbeaten in the EC colts cup
Shelford seem to be making hard work of their cup wins, and this one was no different. A pitch that got heavier and stickier as the frost melted didn't help, nor did a committed and physical Braintree side looking for their first win, but Shelford made far too many errors for a comfortable win and two late tries saved their blushes.
Shelford set the tone for their play form the kick off, knocking on instead of taking a clean catch. Then, having absorbed some Braintree pressure, turned the ball over and kicked clear, but the chasers were off side bringing play back to the 22. The defence held firm, withstanding two driving mauls form close quarters and winning the scrum. The hard work was again undone by a mistake, this time an unnecessary box kick was charged down, and regathered by Braintree for a run under the posts. 7 - 0 after 10 mins. There was then a lengthy break while the ref received treatment for a pulled muscle, before he eventually had to withdraw. A replacement was eventually found and the match restarted. Shelford managed to apply pressure, but not consistently as errors continued to undo the initial good work. Eventually Walter Watson found his way through on the left for an unconverted try 7 - 5 after 23 mins and the score at half time.
Shelford really made things difficult for themselves at the restart. Braintree didn't take the ball and it pinged about on the floor as players tried, and failed, to play football instead of rugby. Braintree capitalised moving the ball left and out pacing a disorganised Shelford defence to score in the corner and extend the lead to 12 - 5 with only seconds on the clock. That seemed to shock Shelford into life, better continuity allowed them to keep hold of the ball and better decision making brought territorial gains. Moving the ball left gave Jordan Barnes the gap he needed to fend off the cover and bring the ball round close to the posts, converted by James Gould, 12 - 12 after 7 min of the half. Shelford then took the lead, again good ball retention allows them to build pressure, Jack Biard sneaking around his defender for an unconverted try, 12 - 17 and Shelford in the lead. Shelford were now looking much better while they had the ball, but Braintree were managing some good continuity of their own and they used it to retake the lead with a converted try on 24 mins, 19 - 17. The clock was now against Shelford, and with the game being played in the middle of the pitch with first one team then the other in possession it became a tense finish for the spectators. With just 3 minutes remaining Shelford snatched the lead back, working the ball left they first looked to have spurned the overlap by putting the ball back inside, but Jordan held his width out wide and the ball finally made it to him for another fend off and try under the posts, converted by Walter Watson, 19 - 24. Shelford were by no means safe and Braintree threw everything into a final attack. Their ambition proved their undoing as Shelford intercepted and for Walter Watson to finish the game with a try and conversion, 19 - 31, and Shelford top of pool C in the EC cup.
Shelford squad: 1. Toby Carmichael, 2. Kai Land, 3. Ben Newman, 4. Jake Brown, 5. Finn Priddle (man of the match), 6. Oskar Tonkinson, 7. James Groser, 8. Rory Webster (captain), 9. Robert Armer, 10. James Gould, (1 conversion), 11. Jordan Barnes, (2 tries), 12. Michael Griffiths, 13. Jack Biard ( 1try), 14. Ollie Jury, 15. Walter Watson (2 tries, 2 conversions), 16. James Fraser, 17. Teddy Pope