Shipston edged a tight and nervy encounter in the West Midlands when they made the trip away to Woodrush on Saturday. With a few recent breaks in the calendar and Old Wheatleyans failure to muster a side together, it had been a month since the Rams were in league action and the rust was certainly there for all to see.
In a less than vintage performance, Shipston were made to pay for consistent infringements at the breakdown and seemingly forgetting everything they knew about the offside line in the first half, but remarkably, were only down by a point at the break. Tries from Matt Corby and Chris Calcott (both converted by Robbie Faulkner) kept the Rams in the hunt at the interval, when perhaps they deserved to be dead and buried. Some porous defending from both sides at least kept the crowd entertained, as repeated line breaks and errors kept the topsy-turvy battle in the balance.
In the second half, despite some lapses in concentration again, the Rams upped their game and started to put together some better phases of running rugby. With a few players unavailable and some injuries occurring on the day, Shipston were forced into a re-shuffle, as centre Tom Corby found himself an honorary member of the "back row posse" during the second period and Rob James came on for his first game of the season after a year long hiatus on a gap ya in Australia. Robbie Faulkner added a try to his conversions in the first half (of course converted by himself) and Tommy Barry claimed the winning score 8 minutes from time on his own return from a couple of weeks on the physio table. A further penalty from Faulkner in the dying embers eventually settled the tie and Shipston were still able to pick up the maximum 5 points for the win, despite a rusty performance in the shadows of Birmingham.
There is still plenty to work on before the next fixture, at home to Upton on 25th March in front of a VP's crowd, but the Rams can be pleased with the way they battled back in the second half, showing great character to come away with the victory. Tom Corby had a decent game in his new found position, as did the likes of Charlie Hollies-Everett, Chris Calcott and Jon New. The MOM this week has to go to the golden boy, Robbie Faulkner. He was nigh on faultless from the kicking tee and controlled the game very well from fly-half all afternoon.