Shipston-on-Stour rounded off their promotion season in Midlands Three West South with a hard fought 34-29 victory at Ledbury.
Having already secured promotion in their previous fixture at Coventry Welsh, the Rams travelled to Herefordshire looking to sign off in a fitting way against a tough and resilient Ledbury side. There were a few changes for Shipston as the centre pairing of Harry Jackson and Tom Corby were missing and the influential Aaron Neal was also away from the back row.
Ledbury started well and immediately put the pressure on Shipston, playing with a pace and intensity that caused the visitors some problems. The forwards looked off the pace and the midfield was a bit frantic with the new combinations taking time to gel, so Ledbury took full advantage and reeled off three early tries to take a deserved 17-0 lead.
The Rams finally started to retain some vital possession, looking comfortable with ball in hand they managed to cause some problems with the forwards in particular getting the better of their counterparts at the scrum and line-out.
From an attacking five-metre line-out, the ball was won cleanly and the Rams set up a driving maul at the back. With a couple of metres to go the back of the maul peeled off and Matt Corby went over.
George Minogue came into the second row to replace Will Cowper and that added impetus straight away. The forwards were much sharper to the breakdown and were able to secure good ball from scrum half Karl Slatter to set the backs away.
Shipston scored two quick tries to bring it back to 17-15 through Ed Cowper and Tobi Faulkner. The centre pairing of Faulkner and Dan Taylor began to wrestle the midfield advantage back.
With another score from Ledbury, Shipston found themselves 24-15 but they began to find holes in the Ledbury defence. After several phases, tight-head prop Ben Summers took a pop ball in the 22 and went crashing through the defence to score.
Shipston took the lead when Harry Clark spun the ball out to Charlie Hollies-Everett who was held up just short of the line. But loose-head prop Simon Baldwyn picked the ball up and dived over the line.
Ledbury put Shipston on the back foot and were rewarded with another try which again gave them a slender two-point advantage with only ten minutes left.
But the Rams worked their way into the Ledbury half with some quality rugby and ball retention.
Following another fine solo run from full-back Ed Cowper, the ball was recycled quickly from the Ledbury line and Thomas Page took a pass from Karl Slatter to go crashing through the defensive line and score.
The successful conversion from Rob James put Shipston 29-34 ahead and they were able to hold out for the rest of the match to record another fine victory on the road.