Shipston made it two wins from two in the league as they backed up last weeks impressive opening victory with a win on the road against a hard working and abrasive Manor Park. The Rams made hard work of it at times, giving away too many penalties and allowing the home side to use their big, heavy pack and work their way into good positions, but they ground out the result and left Nuneaton with the win that they craved.
The game started strongly for Shipston as they immediately went on the offensive and retained the ball well in slippery conditions, running through a number of phases and putting the Park defense under pressure. After an earlier penalty miss, Robbie Faulkner was successful in his second attempt to give the Rams an early 3-0 lead. Manor Park responded with a penalty of their own and this seemed to spring some life into the visitors and they began to play some excellent running rugby, cutting the Park defence to shreds at times. Good work by the likes of Alex Hammond and Scott Brandreth at the breakdown released quick ball for the backline and some slick handling sent Harry Clark away in the corner for the first try of the game.
Shipston then struck again almost immediately afterwards, following a solid scrum in the centre of the field. The ball was sent right through the hands and found it's way to Matt Daniells who had come looking for work off the opposite wing. He showed great balance and pace to cut a line through the defence and race clear of the cover to score Shipston's second try of the afternoon and give them a 13-3 lead.
The home side responded and managed to grab a brace of tries themselves before half time, taking advantage of some quick ball and sending their big forward runners crashing down the slope. It was no more than they deserved for their efforts and it gave them the lead after the opening period, 15-13.
With it all to do in the second half Shipston again began quickly after the break and found themselves within striking distance on a number of occasions. A second Faulkner penalty gave Shipston a 16-15 lead, before a third try of the game for the Rams pushed their advantage out to 6 points. Some good work in the pack resulted in quick ball and it was spun out to the left to mount an attack. With the park defence rushing up quickly, Faulkner threaded a grubber kick through and Harry Jackson was able to sprint through and dive over the line to bring up the try. This gave the Rams a lead of 21-15.
The deficit was cut back to a solitary point however when Manor Park bagged their third try of the game as well, leading to a tense and frantic final 15 minutes. The home side were awarded a penalty on the Rams twenty-two and tapped quickly, catching the defence off guard and racing into the corner to score.
With both sides fighting hard for the win there was a distinct lack of real quality in the final few minutes, but the drama made up for it in what was a thrilling final few moments. Errors were made, penalties were given away and there were also some flashes of brilliance thrown in. The Rams managed to keep calm under pressure and Faulkner pushed the Shipston advantage back out to 4 points with a third penalty.
Much to the Rams delight, that was the scoreline when the referee blew his whistle to end the game. Shipston dragged their weary bodies off the field after claiming a vital away victory at a place that has not been kind to them in the past! MOTM this week could go to a number of players as there were stand out performances from the likes of Harry Jackson, Spider Gasson and Ben Haines. It goes this week to Tobi Faulkner though who was asked to put in a big performance and duly obliged. Defensively strong all afternoon and a constant threat with ball in hand, he was at the heart of much that went well for the Rams.
Shipston welcome Old Leamingtonians to Mayo Road next week with kick off at 3pm.