Shipston Go Top With Dominant Display
The Rams move to the summit of the table with victory over Manor Park
Shipston moved back to the top of Midlands 3 West (South) on Saturday with a comprehensive victory over Manor Park at Mayo Road. Alex Hammond came in to the side for his first start for Shipston after impressing off the bench against Ledbury and George Waywell continued his return from a foot injury by taking his spot on the bench for a second successive week.
The Rams began the game playing up the slope and were soon on the back foot as Manor Park came out of the blocks quickly and retained possession very well. Their early pressure and territory went unrewarded however, as Shipston picked up the first score of the afternoon following a tremendous break away try. Harry Clark received the ball on the left wing and set off up the pitch, beating a couple of tacklers before offloading to Harry Jackson. Jackson fed the supporting Will Hammond who took the ball on over the half way line before offloading back to Jackson. With the Manor Park fullback coming over to make a covering tackle, the ball was spun wide to Jack McMullen who was able to race clear of the covering defence and touch down for a brilliant team try. Sam Cooper slotted the conversion to give the hosts an early 7-0 lead.
The next two scores went the way of the visitors as they were finally rewarded for their pressure and territory. They kicked a penalty to begin with, awarded after an infringement at the breakdown, before bagging their first try of the match with 25 minutes on the clock. They played a tight pick and go game around the fringes and slowly worked their way towards the Shipston line. Despite some excellent defence, Manor Park did eventually manage to sneak over for the score and the successful accompanying conversion gave them a 10-7 lead.
Shipston would go into the half time break with the lead, following a second try for McMullen. This was a much more routine score for the hosts as the ball was spun wide to the right after winning a scrum and simple hands allowed McMullen to race clear and score from first phase ball. The conversion was again made by Cooper and Shipston went in at the break with a lead of 14-10.
After a dressing down at the interval and playing down the slope in the second period, Shipston began to really open up and played some excellent rugby in the second half. Their tempo and accuracy was greatly improved and this resulted in a further five tries in the half, securing a bonus point victory. Harry Clark continued his fantastic run of scoring, bagging himself a second half brace with two very similar scores. On both occasions he picked the ball up on the wing and made a jinking run back inside, beating a number of defenders on his way to the try line.
Jack Coupland, making his first start of the season, scored for the second game on the bounce when he went crashing over from five metres out, carrying 4 defenders with him over the line following another sweeping Shipston move. Tom Corby made a welcome return to try scoring ways with a trademark powerful run through the guts of the Manor Park defence. After picking the ball up on the opposition ten metre line, he cut an angle back inside the defender and made his way towards the twenty-two. With a number of players offering themselves up in support, he was able to use them as a dummy and cut his way past the fullback to touch down under the posts and give Cooper another easy conversion.
By this point in the game Shipston were really dominating, showing their improved fitness and structure and playing some excellent rugby. Alex Hammond and George Wilcock were having brilliant games in the back row and the likes of Aaron Neal, Leo Brice and Will Seys were carrying the ball with real authority and getting the Rams on the front foot. Direct from a kick off the ball fell to George Waywell, who had just made his way onto the field to replace Seys and he crashed into a couple of oncoming Manor Park defenders. He managed to free his arms up and got the ball away to Coupland who made another barnstorming run into the heart of the pitch and drew the fullback before offloading to Matt Corby in support. With the winger covering across to make the tackle, Corby was able to pass to Will Hammond, running a supporting line like all good scrum halves should and he was able to sprint clear of the covering defence and dive in at the corner, just!
The Hammond try was the seventh and final try of the game for Shipston but the scoring wasn't finished there. Much to Manor Park's credit they continued to battle hard and fought their way into the Shipston twenty-two, retaining the ball well and crashing their big runners round the corner. As they attempted to spin the ball wide, the ball was knocked out of the air by a covering Shipston defender and Park were rightly awarded a penalty try from the last play of the game, leaving the final score 45-17 to the Rams.
A fine win and an excellent second half display move the Rams back to the top of the league and keeps them in the hunt for a promotion spot as the business end of the season draws ever closer. There were a number of stand out performances for Shipston, Harry Jackson, Harry Clark and Jack McMullen were all in tremendous form out in the backs and the back row of Alex Hammond, George Wilcock and Harry Barnard all made great contributions throughout the afternoon. The MOTM this week however was awarded to Tom Corby, who had a powerful game in the centre, capped off with an impressive individual score.
Shipston have a week off from league action this coming Saturday, but they return on the 27th when they travel to third placed Old Coventrians for what promises to be a great encounter.