Shipston picked up a maximum 5 point haul away at Old Coventrians after a brilliant team performance secured the spoils against strong opposition. With a couple of enforced changes, the Rams traveled hoping to atone for a lackluster performance the previous week.
Shipston received the kick off from the start of the game and immediately got into their patterns of play, doing some great work at the break down to control the tempo of the game. The intensity and work rate from the Rams seemed too much for the home side early on, and but for a few silly handling errors, their could've easily been early points scored for Shipston. The telling pressure did eventually tell, with old Covs consistently infringing at the ruck and gifting penalties in front of their posts. Sam Cooper made no mistake with his first three kicks at goal, pressing Shipston into a 9-0 lead midway through the first half. It wasn't long until Shipston had scored their first try of the game and it came after a wonderful passage of play into the opposition half. The forwards' support play was exemplary, with off loads sticking to hand and numbers arriving at the ruck to ensure quick ball for the backs to get moving. After a number of phases with the ball being spread from one touchline to the other, the ball was shipped on to Harry Barnard, who made a strong run and burst through 2 defenders to touch down. Cooper missed the conversion, but still Shipston had a healthy lead, 14-0.
It could've been even better for the Rams in the first half, as there were a number of occasions when the final pass just went awry. George Waywell, Jack Barnard and Tarek Laktaf all made some barnstorming runs into opposition territory, with the likes of Daniel Phillips regularly popping up in support. Shipston couldn't quite capitalize on all of the territory and possession, but nonetheless went into half time with a well deserved 14-0 lead.
Playing at home and being a proud team, Old Coventrians were always going to come out of the blocks hard at the start of the second period and that is exactly what happened. They threw everything at Shipston, sending some big ball carriers bursting up the middle of the park to try and create chaos in the Rams defence. Shipston held firm however and defended valiantly in their own twenty-two, repelling wave after wave of attack from the home side. Eventually however, the defensive line was breached as Old Covs picked from a ruck 3 metres out and barged their way over the line for their first score of the afternoon. The try was also converted to cut the deficit in half, Shipston now leading 14-7.
If Old Cov's thought that they would be able to get a stranglehold on the game, they were very much mistaken. Shipston didn't panic after conceding the try and just got on with trying to work their way back up the park. Some strong running from centres Tom Corby and Thomas Morgan propelled the Rams into the opposition half and from there Shipston always looked threatening. The scrum and lineout was functioning much better for the visitors than the previous week and this gave them a terrific platform to attack from. Shipston launched another attack deep into the Old Cov's half and were rewarded with their second try of the game. They worked their way up to 5 metres from the Cov's try line and Sam Cooper was able to pick up from the base of the ruck and bury his way underneath the posts for another try. His successful conversion pushing the score out to 21-7.
With 10 minutes left on the clock you could've forgiven Shipston for being happy with their lot and attempting to hold out for the 4 point win, but they had other ideas. After another sweeping attack, the ball was spun out to the right, where Shipston had a 5 man overlap, and a third try looked imminent. Rather than ship the ball wide for an easy score, Harry Barnard had other ideas and his audacious chip over the defence allowed George Waywell to gallop past the covering full back and touch down close to the posts for the Rams third score of the afternoon. Cooper again converted to take the score to 28-7. There were now 7 minutes for Shipston to push for their fourth try and gain the bonus point! They continued to work tirelessly at the break down and ran the Old Cov's forwards all over the park, spinning the ball from one touchline to the other and covering every blade of grass on the pitch. With what was the last play of the game, Jack McMullen picked the ball up on the 10 metre line after a clearance kick and set off on a jinking run into the opposition half. His pace and step left the covering defence in his wake and he was able to coast over the line for the vital fourth try and secure maximum points for Shipston. The final score was 33-7 to the visitors.
It was a brilliant performance from the Rams and one that every player should be immensely proud of. From 1-15, everybody worked tirelessly for the cause and played some exceptional rugby at times. Shipston host Rugby St Andrews next week and will look to press on from Saturday's impressive performance on the road.