Shipston had to dig deep on Saturday to win away from home at Stoke Old Boys, clinching victory with a penalty from the last play of the game. With a number of injuries and boys away on holiday, the Rams took a much changed side over to Coventry, but the victory again shows the strength in depth that Shipston currently have in the squad, with players stepping up admirably in filling the vacant positions.
The game was a tight affair throughout with the lead changing hands on multiple occasions. After opening the scoring with a penalty, Shipston soon found themselves 10-3 down after allowing the home side easy territory and possession through ill-discipline. The penalty count all afternoon was very poor and it's something that the Rams will have to work on as they progress throughout the season.
With ball in hand though, Shipston began to play with some pace and width and managed to get themselves ahead at half time after scoring a couple of well worked tries. William Gasson supported well from an attack in the middle of the park to go under the posts for the Rams' first try, before Ed Cowper latched on to a fine move from the back line off first phase ball, cutting a great angle to split the defence and race clear for Shipston's second. A second penalty of the match for Rob James, playing at fly half for the first time this season, gave Shipston a 20-10 lead at half time.
The second half belonged predominantly to the home side, who through everything at the Rams in a bid to claim victory in front of their VP's day crowd. They spent a vast majority of the game camped in the Shipston half and scored another two tries of their own to take the lead at 22-20 with fifteen minutes on the clock.
The Rams scored their third try through stand-in captain Harry Jackson, making the most of a gap in the Stoke defence to touch down for Shipston and give them the lead again at 27-22.
A further try for the hosts gave them parity once again, scoring in the corner following a lineout 5 meres out from the Rams try line and this made for a nail biting final 5 minutes. Shipston forced their way into the Stoke half and kept the ball for a number of phases - something they had failed to do consistently all afternoon - before earning a penalty in front of the posts, thirty metres out. Without hesitation the kicking tee was called for and Rob James calmly slotted the ball between the posts to give Shipston a 30-27 lead.
There was no time for any further action and the Rams were relieved to come away with the victory after hearing the final whistle. It was a real dogfight of a game and credit must go to Stoke who played with real heart and ambition in front of their passionate VP Day crowd, making it extremely difficult for Shipston to earn their win.
MOTM this week will go to Harry Jackson. He marshalled the troops extremely well all match and made a number of telling contributions throughout, including his try and the second half.
The Rams welcome Upton to Mayo Road on Saturday for their own VP day, with kick off at 3pm!