Shipston remain at the top of Midlands 3 West (South) after a hard fought victory over Upton on Severn in wet and muddy conditions at Mayo Road. With an increasingly long injury list the Rams were forced to shuffle the pack with Chris Calcott coming into the centre from his usual slot on the wing and captain Matt Corby moving to fly half from hooker. The first half was a real dog fight, lacking in any real quality or flare largely due to the wintery conditions, but both sides did manage to string a few phases together and score a try and a penalty apiece to go into the break at 8-8. Shipston's try was scored by Tobi Faulkner after he latched on to a chip through from Corby and just beat the covering defence to touch down. Sam Cooper then slotted the penalty from the twenty-two to move the Rams onto their 8 points.
After a dressing down at half time, Shipston began to open up a bit more in the second half but were still hampered by a number of errors and poor handling. The line out was beginning to function much better and the forwards were beginning to make more metres into the Upton territory. Ben Haines, Leo Brice and Will Seys in particular were getting their hands on the ball and putting the rams on the front foot. The first points of the second period came from another Cooper penalty, gratefully converted from in front of the sticks after Upton buckled under the pressure from the hosts. Shipston's second try of the game came after another cross-field kick, with Cooper the beneficiary, picking up the loose ball after it was spilled by the visitors full-back and dotting down. The conversion was missed, meaning that the Rams led 16-8 with 15 minutes remaining.
Shipston continued to enjoy most of the territory and possession but were further frustrated by more errors and some resolute defence from their counterparts. With only 5 minutes remaining their persistence was rewarded as Cooper was able to score his second and the Rams' third try of the afternoon, going over in the corner following a sweeping attack. The hurried conversion was successful and Shipston now led 23-8 with four minutes left on the clock, four minutes to try and score the fourth, bonus-point try of the match.
It was not to be however for the hosts, as with time in the red the ball was subsequently knocked on during their final attack - which was an end that epitomized the rest of the game - and they had to settle for a hard fought four point victory. It was a victory that cemented Shipston's place at the top of the division and credit must go to Upton who worked extremely hard all afternoon and made it very difficult for the Rams to get into any sort of rhythm. MOTM this week was Ben Haines who had an excellent game in the loose and scrimmaged very effectively all afternoon.
Shipston's next match is away at Alcester RFC on the 9th and there will be a coach for all players and some travelling support to and from the game.