The first game of 2015 was a visit to my old side Manor Park at the Griff and Coton Sports ground.With Shipston on a bad run and Manor Park fighting to avoid relegation,a close encounter was on the cards.On a bitterly cold day and a Sybrian wind to boot,brave supporter's of both sides deserved a medal.
From the kick off both team tested each other,but Manor Park had the edge due to them having the advantage of the wind and slope.The deadlock was broken on 16 minutes with a lineout and maul near the Shipston line resulted in the home side using their superior weight advantage to crashing over which was converted to make it 7-0.
The rest of the first half was pretty uneventful with a general lack of quality rugby under poor conditions-and when it looked as if Shipston would turn around only 7-0 down,Manor Park increased their lead on 36 minutes when their flyhalf Joyce danced through without a tackle being made on him,this went unconverted to make the half time score 12-0.
The second half started in fine style for Shipston when fullback Charlie Speechly also danced through and Josh Bird converted to cut Manor Park's lead to 12-7.On 60 minutes though Park hit back and increased their lead through a penalty to make it 15-7.But from the resulting kick off the visitors scored through one of Tom Corby's trade mark run's bouncing off tackle after tackle to crash over and again Josh Bird converted to make it 15-14.
With time running out Shipston were dealt a blow then George Waywell received a harsh yellow card when in fact it should have been the Manor Park prop who should have been sin binned.
This enabled Park to increase their lead with a try to make it 20-14 with minutes remaining-but to their credit Shipston threw everything to try and snatch victory.They were rewarded when on 78 minutes constant pressure on the Park's line,they finally crossed to make it 20-19-and with the conversion to win the game,it cruelly snacked against the upright and bounced out.
Manor Park then held on to record a 20-19 victory.
Man of the Match:Matt Corby,a fine game at fly half.