Shipston traveled to Coventry to take on second place Dunlop with the usual absence of 4 or 5 key players,but right from kick off the visitors showed grit and determination to keep Dunlop out.The first 10 minutes was all Dunlop,using their big pack and slick backs they attacked wave after wave the Shipston line-but time and time again the Ram's kept them out with tough tackling and organised defence.Infact on 13 minutes on Shipston's first visit into Dunlop's half took the lead when the pack won good ball to set up captain Matt Corby,who still had alot to do,but using his strength and speed,crash over with Rob James adding the conversion. 0-7.
On 17 minutes Dunlop hit back-a well drilled move resulted in a converted try to tie the score's at 7-7.
The quality of the Dunlop side enabled them to dominate possession-but Shipston held out until the 28 minute when the home team's catch and maul supplied quality ball for their back's who spun the ball out wide to score in the corner.14-7.
Shipston continued to battle and fight for every ball to their credit-but on 36 minutes Dunlop repeated the previous try to score again out wide.19-7.
The game turned dramatically though in the 5th minute of added on time in the first half-Shipston's Mark Jervis and Dunlop's fullback exchanged blow's on the floor as play continued,once spotted by the official,play was stopped with the strange outcome of Jervis receiving a red card and the Dunlop fullback receiving nothing!Half time 19-7.
So Shipston now faced the second half against one of the best team's in the league with only 14 men.It didn't take long for Dunlop to use the extra man advantage-5 minutes into the half Dunlop increased their lead to 26-7 and 5 minutes later increased it further,again using their quick backs.33-7.
The 14 battled on,although not helped by Dunlop's constant offside not being penalised and to rub salt into it Dunlop's next try was a forward pass,but again missed.40-7.
On 69 minutes,in an attempt to intercept a pass by the Dunlop's back's,Josh Bird was given a yellow card-made worse by ill discipline by George Waywell,who didn't heed a warning a few minutes earlier,and spoke out of turn to the official to also receive a yellow card to reduce Shipston to 12 players and some of them carrying injures as well.This allowed Dunlop to score at will for the last 10 minutes of the game which was a shame for the effort and commitment shown by all the players.Final score 64-7.
Shipston need now to regroup for a big game against fast improving Ledbury next Saturday who have won their last 2 games 19-0 with the scalp of Old Wheats yesterday to avoid them slipping into a relegation battle.
My Man of the Match goes to Ben Organ who was battered and blooded yesterday but kept going back onto the field for more!