Shipston battled their way to another victory in the Midlands 3 West (South) league when they welcomed a sizeable Old Coventrians to mayo Road on Saturday. After a minutes silence had been observed following the passing of Shipston resident Walter Emms, the Rams' began the game at a ferocious pace, running the bigger Old Coventrians side ragged in the first quarter of an hour. After Sam Cooper had slotted an early penalty for the home side, Harry Clark continued his fine run of try scoring this season, latching on to a pass from Jack Barnard following some excellent build up play from the likes of Oli Ball and Robert James. His try under the posts was successful converted by Cooper to give the Rams' a healthy 10-0 start with a matter of minutes on the clock. 10 was to become 15, when Will Seys crashed his way over the line from 10 metres out, following more excellent rugby from Shipston. The forwards hit the ball up with pace for a couple of phases before it was spun wide to the right. Oli Ball made a break before off-loading to Aaron Neal, who carried deep into the Old Cov's twenty-two. This time the ball was spun left and Seys was on the end of a fine build up to get Shipston's second try of the game.
After such a blistering start you could be forgiven for thinking that Shipston were about to run away with the fixture, but Old Covs managed to drag themselves back into the tie. With a combination of some untimely errors from the Rams' and the fact that the Covs big forward pack were beginning to make a few yards up the field, the visitors slowly fought their way back into the contest. After a few minutes of stalemate, Old Covs were awarded a penalty in front of the posts and their kicker made no mistake in converting to get them onto the scoreboard for the first time; 15-3 to Shipston.
Despite the now fractured and scrappy affair that was taking place, there were still some glimpses from Shipston that they were able to play some good rugby. They managed to bag another try before the break, with George Waywell taking a short pop from scrum half, Cooper and breaking a couple of tackles to score. In the act of scoring however, Waywell received a knock and was forced from the field for the remainder of the game. Oli Ball was soon to follow Waywell from the pitch after a clash of heads, so on came Harry Barnard and Tom Barry as replacements.
The remaining 10 minutes of the half saw Shipston valiantly defending their line as Old Covs battered at the door to get their first try of the encounter. They were awarded a penalty 5 metres from the line and after a quick tap and go, they managed to bury their way under the covering defence and get their deserved try. The successful conversion made the half time score 22-10 to Shipston.
The second period began as the first had ended with some backs to the wall defence from Shipston as the Old Covs forwards used their bulk to work their way into Shipston territory. It was Shipston who would get the first score of the half however, as Cooper slotted another penalty from in front of the posts. Another penalty, this time to the visitors, was kicked into the corner and from the resulting lineout Old Covs set up a well-drilled driving maul. They managed to execute it well and breached the Ram's defences for the second time in the game and get the score to within ten points at 25-15.
Any nerves that Shipston had were relieved immediately from the re-start as Harry Clark managed to gather the kick and race clear of the covering Old Covs defence to score his second try of the game. The conversion was made by James and the Rams now led 32-15. A further penalty from the home side added another three points to the tally, before Old Covs bagged themselves a third try from another well executed driving maul. At 35-22 it was beginning to get a bit edgy for the Rams again and the next score would prove crucial.
In the midst of all the drama, new signing Will Hammond replaced Cooper at scrum half to make his debut for Shipston and quickly got into his stride. Harry Barnard and Charlie Hollies-Everett were putting in a great shift in the second row and Shipston started to play some better rugby again. Some quick line speed in defence forced a spillage from Old Covs and Tobi Faulkner hacked the ball on. The bounce was extremely kind to him and he was able to gather his own kick and race clear under the posts for Shipston's fifth try of the game. The conversion was made and the Rams' finished the match with a comprehensive 42-22 vitory.
It is a victory that keeps Shipston right in contention in 3rd place in the league and continues their good run of form so far this season. MOTM this week will go to Sam Cooper who was always a threat around the fringes and controlled the game very well from scrum half. Next up for the Rams is a trip to Old Leamingtonians next week, 3pm kick off.