Shipston travelled over to Shirley on Saturday to take on Edwardians RFC in the second round of the RFU Senior Vase, knowing a win would progress them further in the competition and get them a step closer to Twickenham.
With a number of changes to the side following injury and work commitments, George Wilcock and Ben Haines made their appearances of the season for the Rams’ and in doing so, became the 34th and 35th different players respectively to have represented the First XV already this season. A quite astonishing statistic considering only 5 matches have been played with the season still in its infancy, however it does highlight the strength in depth that Shipston possess this season.
With the wind at their backs the Rams’ made a mixed start to the game, conceding far too many penalties and making it difficult to gain any territory or possession. Edwardians soon made the first impression on the scoreboard, slotting home a kick at goal from another penalty conceded by the visitors to take the lead 3-0 with 10 minutes on the clock. Shipston seemed to settle into the half after finding themselves behind in the game and soon chalked up the first try of the afternoon. Tobi Faulkner made a scything run down the left hand side before cutting inside and offloading to the supporting Harry Clark to race away under the posts. A successful conversion from Rob James gave Shipston the lead at 7-3.
Another try for the Rams’ before half time gave them a 12-3 lead at the interval, with George Waywell latching onto the end of a sweeping move to canter into the corner. Shipston would have to start the second half with fourteen men however, as scrum half Sam Cooper was given ten minutes on the naughty step for an altercation off the ball.
The beginning of the second period followed much the same pattern as the first, with the Rams’ conceding far too many penalties and allowing Edwardians cheap possession and field position. Another try for Shipston was traded for a couple for the home side, who managed to capitalize on the ill-discipline and creep to within touching distance of the Rams’ at 19-15.
From then on Shipston began to put their foot down and started to stretch away from their hosts, moving the ball quickly from breakdown to breakdown and showing good skill and ball retention. Tries for Sam Cooper, Rob James, Tommy Barry and Leo Brice in the last 20 minutes killed off the tie as a contest and eventually gave Shipston the winning margin of 38-15.
On an afternoon where Shipston’s pack out-muscled their counterparts, Waywell, Ben Haines and James Pither all put in a great shift up front and the pace and skill of the backline were finally put to good use in the second half, with Tommy Barry, Harry Clark and Rob James all putting in a good performance. MOTM this week will go to Tobi Faulkner, who was excellent in both attack and defense all afternoon and also had a hand in three of the tries.