In the week where Shipston-On-Stour defended monumental levels of rain rivaling that of the ‘great’ floods of 2007, The Rams, who are just as resilient, took on 4th place Wallingford at home. The pitch, despite soaking up torrential rain for days, could only have been described as in perfect condition for the open, running rugby that was to come. A feather in the cap to all those involved in its procurement and continual upkeep.
Shipston opened the scoring through the boot of Rob James making use of the ill-discipline from the opposition, 3-0. This was quickly backed up with a try from Dan Taylor and effortlessly converted by Rob, 10-0.
The rams were once again showing their metal with an impenetrable defence, only allowing Wallingford to gain territory through conceding penalties in the contact area. However, these were reciprocated by Wallingford with some textbook turnovers by Will “how can a 9 do that?” Hammond and the back-row squad of Al Hammond, Aaron Neal and George Cowper, with the latter putting in a plethora of tackles throughout the game.
The keyword of the day was domination, Shipston gained an advantage in all set-piece, approaching double-figure turnovers at the lineout no thanks to jumping akin to that of a salmon from Will Cowper and Leo Brice. The front row of Simon Baldwyn, Sam Treadgold and George Minogue also showed unrelenting pressure through the scrums.
The domination up front allowed the backs to pin Wallingford into their own half, strengthened with some consistent kicking from Isaac Rowles. This pressure leads to The Rams winning a lineout against the head, putting the backs onto the front foot and the complicated move “hands” putting Tobi into the corner for another well earnt converted try, 17-0.
Before the second half was out, Wallingford found some territory and made no mistake in capitalising on their rare trip into The Rams red zone, 17-5.
The home team swiftly picked up from the first half, forcing Wallingford to make multiple mistakes, gifting possession and territory along with it. After another dominant lineout, the backs did their thing (read “hands”) culminating in probably one of the most disgusting behind the back passes from Dan Taylor to Tobi Faulkner, allowing him to walk under the posts, 24-5.
To continue the tone, Matt Daniels was able to sneak one past the defence by collecting a perfectly weighted kick through, 31-5. Pressure from The Rams was unwavering, giving the midfield an opportunity to take advantage from the occasional dropped ball, or scruffy pass. In the confusion, after having slotted a penalty for 3, Rob James was able to add the 5th try to the tally, 41-5.
Wallingford having weathered a storm of their own applied some pressure onto a wannabe fallback who was unable to collect the spiraling kick. The opposition secured one of their own scrums to bust through the defence for the 2nd time in the match and recover 5 points, 41-10. With a seemingly complete job, Shipston became a little relaxed and an uncharacteristic defensive set allowed Wallingford in for another 5, 41-15.
With their tails up, the sniff of a 4th bonus point try prompted Wallingford to throw the proverbial kitchen sink at the home team, with what felt like a long half coming to an end, that precious point was not forthcoming.
Man of the Match was rightly awarded to both Isaac Rowles and Rob James who equally stepped up to the plate out of their normal positions.
The Rams travel to High Wycombe next weekend (23/11/2019) looking for the 8th victory on the bounce, kick-off 2.15 pm.