Rams face final day showdown for promotion

Andy Hunt made his 200th league appearance for Shipston
Andy Hunt made his 200th league appearance for Shipston

Shipston-on-Stour maintained their push for promotion with a 50-21 victory over Dunlop on Saturday.

The Rams remain third in Midlands Three West South, one point behind Old Leamingtonians but with a game in hand, this weekend’s final fixture with Woodrush.

The first half was a tight affair with Dunlop attempting to close down the Rams’ attack at the earliest opportunity. But their eagerness cost them as Shipston were awarded a penalty in front of the posts and Sam Cooper slotted it over.

The pressure continued and Shipston were rewarded when they won a line-out on their own 22 metre line and ran a clever wrap around move in the middle to create space for Tobi Faulkner to race clear. His off-load was partially blocked by the covering fullback but Harry Clark gathered to ran clear and score.

The gap was narrowed to a single point when the ball was spun wide from another successful line-out, only to be intercepted by the Dunlop winger who raced clear to score.

Both sides cancelled each other out but the Rams managed to score a second try when a penalty was kicked to the corner and from the resulting line-out a well organised driving maul ended with Will Seys going over and Cooper added the conversion.

A penalty for a late hit on the Dunlop fullback gifted the visitors 50 metres and from the resulting line-out they drove their way over the line from a strong maul.

The final score of the first half followed some excellent work from Leo Brice and Alex Hammond. Another penalty saw Shipston kick to the corner to set up a maul, Shipston retained possession and Faulkner off-loaded brilliantly to Jackson who dived over and Cooper added the conversion for a 22-14 lead at the break.

After the restart three yellow cards were dished out, two for the Rams and Dunlop made full use of their man advantage to score their third try. The conversion reduced the deficit to just the single point.

During the sin-bin period, Andy Hunt was brought on as front row replacement for the 200th game in the league.

Back up to the full compliment, Shipston scored their bonus-point try when Clark latched on to the end of a some excellent play after another good line-out.

They ran a wrap around ball with hooker Matt Corby receiving the pass and heading round the corner into the middle of the field. Shipston reversed the play and the ball was spun quickly through the hands of Faulkner who found Clark in space on the right wing and he went over.

Ed Cowper scored an interception try and Jackson grabbed his second try after receiving a great off-load from George Bird. Clark went over for his hat-trick of tries following a good break from Will Hammond and Cooper slotted over the conversion with the last kick of the game.