Shipston maintained their good league form to record a resounding victory away at Ledbury in their first fixture back after the festive break. With a good squad making their way over to Herefordshire, the Rams were in confident mood and they had every reason to be, with the return of George Waywell from injury, Jack Coupland making his first appearance of the season and Harry Clark back from Australia to start his first game in nearly three months.
It was a scrappy start from both sides, with neither able to stamp their authority onto the fixture, but it was Shipston who came away with the first points of the game, Sam Cooper knocking over a penalty from in front of the posts after Ledbury were penalized for hands in the ruck at the break down. The home side hit back however and scored the first try of the game after some continued pressure in the Rams' half. Too many handling errors and poor positions at the ruck allowed Ledbury to dominate possession for the first 25 minutes and build up a deserved 10-3 lead following the converted try and a penalty of their own.
Shipston started to get back into things and soon had their first try of the afternoon. Following an attacking line out in Ledbury's half, the ball was spun wide to the left and after a well executed move in the middle of the park, Harry Jackson was able to loop round and touch down in the corner for his and the Rams first try. The conversion out wide was missed and the score was 10-8 to the hosts, a score which remained until half time.
Ledbury scored a second try just after half time from a driving maul to take their score to 15, but that was a s good as it got for the home side as Shipston put their foot on the gas in the second half and put in a really dominant display. Their ability to offload from the tackle and the lines of support running from the likes of Harry Jackson and Tom Corby in the centres made it very difficult for Ledbury to halt the Rams attack and they punished them with a further five tries in the second period.
Harry Jackson grabbed his second of the afternoon, latching on to the end of another good move from the backline to waltz over in the corner and he then became creator, setting up Will Hammond who ran a brilliant support line to take the offload from Jackson after a busting run through the middle.
Harry Clark scored on his return from down under, finishing off a move that he started with a blistering break out of his own twenty-two. He weaved his way through a number of tackles before off-loading to Tom Corby, who himself beat a couple of defenders as he advanced towards the try line. He was held just as he made it to the Ledbury twenty-two but was able to get the ball free to Matt Corby and a simple pass inside to Clark was enough to allow him to canter under the posts to score the try of the day!
Jack McMullen got Shipston's fifth of the match, when he and Will Hammond chased a kick down the right touchline. Some excellent pressure from Hammond forced the ball free from the Ledbury full back and McMullen was able to gather and dive over to score. The scoring was rounded off by Jack Coupland in his first game of the season. After some more good work and carrying from the likes of Charlie Hollies-Everett and Harry Barnard, a quick ruck was created and the ball was tipped onto Coupland as he made a crashing run towards the line. From five metres out, no defender was ever going to stop him and he crashed over to score Shipston's sixth and final try to put the icing on a well polished second half performance. The final score ended up at 39-15 to Shipston and keeps them in the hunt for promotion at the top of the league.
It was by far the complete performance from Shipston,, who gave away too many penalties and were weak at the ruck in the first half, but the second half display was very impressive against a strong opposition in Ledbury, who very rarely lose a game at home. It is a difficult decision for MOTM as there were strong performances all around the park and it could go to any number of players in truth. Tarek Laktaf was a nuisance for the opposition on his return after a shoulder injury and the likes of Hollie-Everett, Barnard, Aaron Neal and Harry Jackson all had brilliant games for the Rams. It will go this week to Will Seys however, who had an excellent game in the line out and was ever present around the park, popping up in support and running hard lines with ball in hand.
The Rams return to action on Saturday (13th) when they entertain Manor Park at Mayo Road, kick off at 2.15pm.