Shipston's long and impressive 13 game unbeaten streak came to an end on Saturday when they travelled over to league leaders, Pinley and fell short against a team that played the wet and boggy conditions very well. Having had such an impressive run of late it is a difficult pill for the Rams to swallow but they showed great character in the second half of the match to fight back after a disappointing opening period left them with a lot to do at half time.
It was a match that both sides knew would play a big part in deciding the promoted teams come the end of the season and it seemed to be playing on the Shipston minds in the first half, as a host of uncharacteristic mistakes and poor decisions let Pinley have some easy territory and possession. They gratefully accepted some easy opportunities and scored 3 tries in the first half to open up a commanding 19-0 lead, no more than their clinical play and Shipston's lack of accuracy deserved. Their big forwards made the most of the swampy conditions and trundled their way around the park to great effect.
After some stern words and home truths at half time, the Rams were desperate to make amends for their poor first half showing. They started much brighter in the second half and were camped inside the Pinley twenty-two for most of the first 20 mins of the half, but the home sides defence was extremely resolute and they managed to repel the Shipston attack.
To make matters worst for the Rams, Pinley were given two sniffs of the try-line and took full advantage of both, again showing their ability to make the most of any opportunity they were given. They pushed their lead up to 31-0 and ended the match as a contest.
Shipston needed to show some pride and grit and that is exactly what they did in the last 15 minutes to drag some respectability back into the game. They scored their first try of the match through winger Harry Clark, as he finished off a length of the field effort by racing into the corner. The flowing moved was started off deep inside Shipston's half and offered a glimpse of what this exciting young side is capable of.
They followed that up with a further two tries in similar fashion, throwing the ball around with great skill in the difficult conditions and perhaps more relaxed knowing that the game had gone. Their second try was scored by centre Tom Corby, as he ran a great support line and followed up his own pass to regather just metres from the line and flop over for the score. The third and final try of the match for Shipston was scored by Harry Jackson and capped off an industrious performance from the centre. Following a fantastic break from Matt Daniells, the ball was recycled quickly and spun left before a scrum was awarded. Shipston won the ball and spread it wide where Jackson gathered quickly from the first ruck and dived over the line.
The three tries brought the score back to 31-15 and that was how it remained until the final whistle, with Pinley deservedly picking up the victory and cementing their place at the top of the division. It was a disappointing afternoon for the Rams who were uncharacteristically sloppy and allowed Pinley all of the momentum at the start of the game. Once the home side had got in front, it was always going to be difficult for Shipston to peg it back.
MOTM this week for Shipston will go to Matt Daniells. He made some excellent breaks int he second half and put the Rams on the front foot when things were not going well for them. He didn't get the try that his performance deserved but he was at the heart of everything good that Shipston did in attack.
The Rams now have 2 weeks off from league action before they return at home against Stoke Old Boys RFC on February 9th.