Shipston lost at home for the second time this season when they hosted a Pinley side high on confidence having been victorious in all of their league encounters so far this season. In front of a decent crowd down at Mayo Road, the Rams got off to a bright start and put a number of good phases together to get within striking distance of the Pinley line. The pressure and ball retention soon paid off as they were awarded a penalty in front of the posts that Robbie Faulkner slotted home to give Shipston an early 3-0 lead.
As was expected, Pinley came back strongly and used their big set of forwards to muscle their way into the Shipston half. The Rams defense was solid for the most part, but the Pinley pressure broke through the resistance, scoring a penalty of their own, followed by a converted try, which put the visitors 10-3 in front.
Another penalty for Shipston cut the deficit to 4 points, this time Tobi Faulkner making no mistake from the tee after taking over from his brother, who had to leave the field following an injury. Pinley soon got back into their stride however and ended had a spell of 15 minutes where they dominated proceedings. Two further tries for the Coventry side put them in real control, pushing the score out to 24-6 with only a few minutes of the half remaining.
Shipston would end the first period with a try of their own, finished off by William Gasson - moved into the centres this week due to poor availability in the back line - who latched onto a miss-pass floated out to the left wing and cantered over the line. The score at half time was 24-13 and Shipston knew they had plenty to do in the second half if they were to turn the game around.
They got off to a bright start in the second period, controlling possession and having a real go at Pinley, but both sides defences were winning the battle and it was turning into a really tight affair. Shipston did get the second try that they were craving, finishing off a well worked move with Gasson picking up his second try of the afternoon. With the score now at 24-20 it was everything to play for.
Pinley showed good game management and control, kicking well to the corners and forcing Shipston to play from deep. They converted another penalty to stretch their lead back out to seven points and then a few minutes later, struck the killer blow, scoring a try through their captain. His quick thinking at a penalty saw him tap and go, catching the Rams defence off guard and diving into the corner- 32-20 to the visitors.
Shipston had 10 minutes to get back into the game and they threw absolutely everything at Pinley, camping inside the opposition twenty-two for the remainder of the match and racking up penalty after penalty. Pinley were reduced to 14 men when their second row received a second yellow card and got his marching orders and from the resulting penalty, the Rams kicked to the corner for a lineout. They won possession and went straight into a driving maul, looking to creep over the line for a third score. The set up was good and they burrowed their way over the line for the try, with skipper Matt Corby the last man up with the ball to claim it.
With the score at 32-25 there were 2 minutes left on the clock and again, the Rams hurled everything at Pinley to try and breech their defence once again. With the visitors clearly tiring and stopping the game for breaks at every opportunity, the clock was slowly wound down. Shipston did launch one final assault on the Pinley line but were harried into touch when they tried to spread the ball wide. Pinley won the resulting lineout and ran the ball into touch to end the match, 32-25 to the Coventry men.
It wasn't the result that Shipston were looking for, but with a number of key performers missing it showed the real strength in depth that the club have currently in that they were able to compete for the full 80 minutes against a strong opposition. Pinley look like the early season pace setters in Midlands 3 West (South) and deservedly sit comfortably towards the top of the table having won every game.
The MOTM this week was sponsored by Sacha Saunders and picked by club veteran Robin Shirley. In his first start for Shipston since his pre-season transfer, the award was given to second row Tom Mylott, who had an excellent game, carrying the ball strongly and dominating the lineout for the Rams.
Shipston have a week off next week before they travel to Stockwood Park in Luton for the first round of the RFU Senior Vase on the 13th October.