Sat 21
1st XV
W (3)
S Cooper, A HuntW
R James (2)W (2)
Shipston Fire Burns Strong

Shipston Fire Burns Strong

By Andy Hunt
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HWO league result but a Friendly was played anyway!

It’s a funny old game rugby….Shipston were forced to concede a HWO even before they had turned up at Woodrush on Saturday. A lack of registered and available first team players meaning that they had no team. However the laws of the league said, that for Shipston to concede the game, without being fined points, they had to offer Woodrush a friendly match instead…Woodrush having planned their VIPs dinner for Saturday gratefully accepted this offer, forcing the injured Shipston club captain Gerorge Waywell into a very difficult position. He had only a few days to try to pull together a last minute team of ex-players, 2nd teamers and a small smattering of available 1st teamers. However his hard work paid off and the motley crew set off to Birmingham for a game, which to be honest, they didn’t hold out much hope of winning. However it turned out to be a game that proved to be very entertaining for all involved.

Things didn’t start too well with the Rams team playing up the slight slope, into the wind, and with an organised defence. Things soon went awry as the first Woodrush score crashed passed the Rams line, although the conversation in the swirling wind was missed. Play continued with the big Woodrush pack making the much lighter Shipston pack struggle, stirling tackles from the flankers Mark Jervis and Steven Baker were covered by second row Sam Treadgold. However the Woodrush backs second phase saw the Shippo backs drawn into a fight for the ball, a swift and simple wide pass sidestepped the defence and allowed Woodrush to score again.

Shipston heads were starting to drop, they were conceding too many penalties, they were losing too much ground, things were looking bleak, especially after yet another try brought the score to 17-0. However Hooking veteran Martin Goodman wasn’t going to just roll over in this game, a crashing run from centre Tommy Barry saw the ball end up just metres short from the Woodrush line. Goodie thinking he’d caught the refs eye picked up at the base of the ruck, but it was to no avail, as Goodie dived over the ref looked the other way and he missed the grounding…held up. After a 30 minute deluge though, this was perhaps the slight spark Shipston needed for a fire to be kindled. The resulting 5m scrum saw the ball picked up by scrumhalf Karl Slatter and a jinking run saw it end up wide in the hands of debutant 1st team second row Matt Tofts, only for him to fumble it diving over the 5m line! The Shipston boys went into half time 17-0 down still but with a little flame starting to burn…

And what a blaze the second half turned out to be…immediately a scything tackle from big Tom Beeley back in Rams colours again caused a turnover and after a massive crash ball from number 8 Alex Ray the ball spun back towards the backs. A quick pick up from number 10 Sam Cooper saw his trade mark ducking and stepping run to dodge past the Woodrush big men. Even a stray high tackle didn’t stop Cooper from touching down for Shipston first try….and a try was all Robert James needed as he converted the subsequent kick cleanly.

Shipston had found their heat and soon after found themselves with a scrum near the Woodrush 22m line. Whereas in the first half the Shipston men had been pushed about, all of a sudden they found themselves in charge. The Woodrush pack was wheeled one way and then the other before their dangerous backs were released. Fullback Toby Gasson linking well with ‘Spider Gasson’ to run some dangerous lines. Soon the ball was stopped metres short of the Woodrush tryline and it was easy work for the loosehead Andrew Hunt to just pickup at the base of a ruck and dive for the line…again Rob James ably converted.

Woodrush tried to fight back, winning a dangerous penalty kick to the Shipston 5m…At this point the veteran heads of the Shipston team showed their experience by calling on the pack to not complete the obviously coming maul. After just a few steps the ref rightly called the penalty for a flying wedge, no maul formed and Rob James kicked clear. Soon after another penalty was won by Woodrush and the same infringement saw a card raised to a Woodrush player perhaps harshly as the flying wedge hadn’t formed up that time.

Shipston were beginning to eye a win when a lovely weighted pass was fumbled by winger Ricky Ashby so frustratingly close to the line. However at this point and in their rush to attack Shipston slipped a penalty at the breakdown and Woodrush hit the ball between the sticks. The first of two penalties that brought the scoreline up to 23-14 and out of a converted trys reach. Shipston had fought hard but it wasn’t to be, the final whistle blew and Shipston had not quite made it. However after a difficult week the Shipston players could rightly stand proud, they were a last minute scratch team who had very nearly beaten a well drilled 1st team opposition.. An opposition who hadn’t even realised it was a friendly - their coach having not told them until after the final whistle. The Rams are at home next Saturday in the Cup against Wednesbury and if Shipston play that game with the same fire in their bellys it could prove to be a very exciting game indeed…

Woodrush 23 – 14 Shipston

1 - Andy Hunt
2 - Martin Goodman
3 - Tom Beeley
4 - Matt Tofts
5 - Sam Treadgold
6 - Steve Baker
7 - Mark Jervis
8 - Alex Ray
9 - Karl Slatter
10 - Sam Cooper
11 - Ricky Ashby
12 - Tom Barry
13 - Rob James
14 - Spider Gasson
15 - Toby Gasson

16 - Aaron Evans
17 - Darren Sutton

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Match details

Match date

Sat 21, Nov 2015




Midlands 3 West (South)