Shipston suffered defeat at the hands of table toppers Droitwich on Saturday, as they ran into a very well drilled and structured side. It was always going to be a tough game for the Rams, as the hosts had been in blistering form this season, winning all 10 of their previous league fixtures. Shipston were confident however, given their renaissance this season as another side competing at the top end of the table.
The home side started brightly and were soon making inroads into the Shipston defense with ball in hand. The Rams were guilty of giving away too many penalties in the opening exchanges and this allowed Droitwich to take control. They elected to kick into the corner and used their much heavier pack to drive Shipston over their own line for the first score of the game. The conversion was missed and the Rams found themselves 5-0 with only minutes on the clock.
Shipston kicked into gear and responded almost immediately with a try of their own. They won a penalty and decided to give the home side a taste of their own medicine, electing to maul from the line out and making great ground towards the Droitwich line. Sam Cooper was able to snipe away at the back of the maul and dived over the line for the try! The conversion from out wide was missed and the scores were level at 5-5. After an exchange of penalties, Droitwich edged into the lead, 11-8 and this was as close as the Rams would get for the rest of the afternoon. They found themselves 23-8 down at half time after Droitwich managed to score a brace before the interval. Again, both tries came from their impressive driving maul after the concession of penalties from Shipston.
The second half played out much as the first half had done. Shipston looked threatening when they had ball in hand and managed to make inroads into the Droitwich half on several occasions, but they just lacked that composure to finish the moves off with anything productive. Droitwich continued to pressure and kicked to the corner at every opportunity. They managed to score another 2 tries in the second half, again from their dominant driving maul, which took the game beyond the Rams. The final score was 35-8 to the home side.
It was a case of what might have been for Shipston as they came up against a very good side who are flying high at the top of the division. If they could've kept their penalty count down and attacked them a bit more with ball in hand, they may have had more success. But credit must go to Droitwich who stuck to their game plan very well and executed their driving maul extremely efficiently all afternoon.
Shipston now head into the Christmas break in a positive frame of mind and sitting third placed in the table after a great first half to the season. They are back in action on the 7th January when they welcome second placed Ledbury to Mayo Road, in what promises to be an exciting encounter.