Shipston got their league campaign back up and running after victory last week in the cup first round, with a stellar second half performance earning them the victory against a good Ledbury side. The Rams managed to overturn an 0-17 half time deficit with some blistering rugby in the second period and pick up an unlikely looking victory in front of a partisan home crowd.
It was a first half to forget for Shipston, with a succession of handling errors and the concession of far too many penalties allowing Ledbury to stamp their mark on the fixture. Many times the Rams would get themselves into good positions, only to knock the ball on or infringe at the break down, undoing all of the good work and allowing the visitors easy field position with the wind at their backs. Shipston conceded 2 quick tries and were perhaps lucky not to concede more early on, as Ledbury began to dominate proceedings. The first half was then ended with an intercept try of the visitors, the pass being taken by the Lebury wing on half way who cantered in under the posts to give them a 17-0 lead at half time.
After some choice and frank words during the interval, Shipston knew they needed to up the tempo and urgency if they were going to salvage anything from the tie. They began to run hard in good numbers and managed to recycle the ball much quicker. Harry Clark managed to crash his way over in the right hand corner to begin the fight back, converted by Robert James, which gave the Rams the belief they could go on and win the game. Clark's second try soon followed after excellent work from the forwards had pushed Ledbury deep into their own half. The likes of Charlie Hollies-Everett and Harry Barnard were beginning to get their hands on the ball more and bust holes through the Ledbury defence. After Oli Ball had gone crashing through the middle, the ball was recycled out to the wing, where Clark jinked his way passed 3 defenders to go over for a second time. Again James added the extras to bring Shipston back within 3 points at 14-17.
The Shipston dominance was beginning to show and the Ledbury penalty count was increasing as they were consistently forced onto the back foot by a rampant Rams pack. James unfortunately missed a penalty shot at goal to draw the scores level, but from the resulting twenty-two yard drop out, Tobi Faulkner was alert to a quick tap from the Ledbury fly-half and made a fantastic tackle, getting back onto his feet quickly and earning another Shipston penalty for holding on at the ruck. This time Shipston elected to kick into the corner and try and force their driving maul over the line. The maul was collapsed and from the free ball, Shipston had a dart at the try line. After a number of phases of pressure, the returning Harry Barnard used his considerable bulk to crash his way through 3 defenders and slam the ball down for the Rams' third try of the afternoon. James again added the extras to give Shipston a 21-17 lead! A penalty increased the Rams' advantage to seven points with just 5 minutes left on the clock and the match was then sealed by and excellent try from Robbie Faulkner! The ball was recycled quickly on the Ledbury ten metre line and shipped out to the right wing. Harry Clark cut inside and offloaded to Tobi Faulkner, who in turn fed brother Robbie to race clear of the covering defence and touch down underneath the posts for the Rams' fourth bonus point try. James added the conversion to take the score to 31-17.
Shipston held out for the remaining 2 minutes despite Robbie Faulkner being shown a yellow card for a tip tackle, as they recorded a fine comeback victory. There were many good performances from the Rams in the second half, with the likes of Ball, Barnard and Hollies-Everett carrying the ball hard all game and James and the two Faulkner's also impressing in the back line. MOTM this week must go to Harry Clark though, who scored another brace of tries in a very impressive display on the wing.
The Rams travel over to Manor Park next Saturday, looking to carry on their good form from the past few weeks.