Shipston were agonizingly dumped out of the RFU Senior Vase at the quarter final stages after their draw with Vipers RFC at Mayo Road on Saturday. After a fiercely fought contest over eighty minutes, extra time was required but still the scores remained level. The contest was then decided by count-back. Both teams had scored two tries and 1 conversion each. Still level. That meant that by virtue of being the away team, Vipers RFC were awarded the victory and progress through to the semi finals!
The game got off to the worst possible start for Shipston as Vipers scored directly from the kick off to go 5-0 up with barely 20 seconds on the clock. A combination of woeful defence and slick handling from the visitors carved open the Rams to see them fall behind without having had their hands on the ball. The conversion made it 7-0.
Shipston managed to drag their way back into the contest and soon a hotly contested battle ensued. It was too and fro in the forwards with both sides having their moments and gaining the upper hand and that was how it was to prove all afternoon. With the Rams holding on to possession well, Vipers were forced to infringe repeatedly at the break down and found themselves on the receiving end of an astonishing three yellow cards in the first half. This enabled the hosts to push forward and gain the lead after 2 tries in fairly quick succession at the back end of the half. First Sam Cooper dived over in the corner to finish off a brilliant sweeping move and the a penalty try was awarded shortly after when Tobi Faulkner was barged off the ball in the act of scoring after he'd kicked through and attempted to gather the ball himself. The half would finish with a penalty to the Vipers and so the teams went in at the break with the score 12-10 to the Rams.
A fractious and tense second half played out with very little by way of clear cut chances for either side. The Rams added a penalty to push the score to 15-10 and then came a major turning point in the game. After some handbags at a ruck on the Shipston twenty-two and brawl broke out between the two sides as the ferocious tie boiled over. Once all had calmed down the referee reached into his pocket to show the Vipers a further yellow card and two red cards and the Rams received 2 red cards of their own, meaning it was 13 vs 12!
The game was heading Shipston's way until a late try from the Vipers after a sustained period of pressure leveled things up. Some valiant Shipston defence finally gave way and at the full time whistle the sides could not be split, 15-15.
Extra time was played, a further ten minutes each way for the already weary looking teams to slug it out. The tiredness shone through as both teams went blow for blow but couldn't make any headway as both defences held firm. A missed penalty from Vipers from a distance out was the only real opportunity either side had to snatch a dramatic victory. The referee had informed both sides of the rulings prior to the start of the extra time and so when Vipers were awarded a penalty with time in the red, they gratefully took the opportunity to hoof the ball off the park and into the darkness and claim the victory as the away team.
It was a massive blow for Shipston who had suffered injuries and set backs along the way but huge credit must go to both sides and particularly Vipers RFC for the way they battled throughout the 100 minutes of rugby. All at Shipston would like to wish the Vipers the very best of luck in the next round of the competition.
It's back to league action this coming Saturday for Shipston as they travel to league leaders, Woodrush. With the Rams just a single point behind their counterparts there is a possibility that a victory could see them move to the top of the league themselves.