Shipston began proceedings in 2017 in frustrating fashion, as they lost at home to a Ledbury side who were on a good run of form and had leap-frogged the Rams into second place in the table. Playing down the slope in the first period, Shipston began brightly but ultimately were left with nothing to show for their first 15 minutes of dominance. And so it would be for much of the afternoon, as patches of brilliance from the home side were often undermined by a lack of concentration at key times.
There were some excellent phases of running rugby from the Rams, with the off-load game in particular working to good effect, making metres and territory into the Ledbury half on many occasions. However, it was the visitors composure and execution of their game plan that eventually won over on the day. They kicked for territory very well all afternoon and were allowed to slow the ball down at the ruck on numerous occasions, making it very difficult for Shipston to create the quick ball that they craved to attack them out wide. Ledbury also punished any mistake, no matter how big or small, which is something that the Rams could definitely look to improve from their own game. The visitors scored 12 points whilst Shipston were down to 14 men in the first half and this is ultimately what won them the game. That and a try from an intercepted pass on their own twenty-two were the significant turning points in the fixture.
Shipston did manage to score 3 very good tries of their own, playing some excellent stuff in the process, but the lack of precision and discipline at the break down and in defence gifted too many opportunities to a Ledbury side who were decent enough to accept them.
A disappointing 31-17 defeat for Shipston, but definitely some positives to take from the game. It's a measure of how far the team have come in the past 12-18 months that this result and performance were deemed to be below par as the team keep raising the standards and the expectation levels of those involved. We must also remember that we are still sitting comfortably in 3rd position in the table, with a real chance to attack and push for promotion in the run-up to the final few weeks. I'm sure the coaching staff would've bitten your hand off if you'd have offered them that at the start of the season!
It's Manor Park away on the 21st next for Shipston and a chance to try and reverse a disappointing performance and defeat against the same opposition earlier on in the season.