Shipston-on-Stour suffered their first defeat in nine outings at Rugby St Andrews in Saturday’s Midlands West Three South fixture.
Despite again missing a number of key players through injury, the Rams still made the trip in confident mood but went down 32-26.
The visitors made a sluggish start, allowing their hosts easy possession and territory in the opening exchanges. But the Rams scored first when good pressure in defence forced a spillage in the St Andrews’ back line and Tobi Faulkner hacked down field before racing away from the covering defence to score and Robert James added the conversion.
Several good phases saw Shipston give away too many penalties at the break down and St Andrews took full advantage of ill-discipline and scored twice to lead 10-7. A penalty from James brought Shipston level before some sloppy covering defence allowed Rugby to regain the lead with another try.
Another brace of penalties from James gave Shipston a 15-16 lead but more good work from St Andrews capitalised on a break in concentration from the visitors and they raced over to lead 20-16 at halftime.
After the restart, the Rams gave away more cheap penalties before a driving maul saw the hosts score their fifth try following a line-out. A sixth try soon followed to leave the Rams trailing 32-16.
Finally Shipston managed to hold on to the ball and James made an excellent break from his own 22 and off-loaded to the supporting Faulkner, who cantered over for his second try.
From an attacking scrum on the 22, scrum half Sam Cooper broke from the base and raced around the covering defence to make it 32-26. With the last play, the Rams’ thought they had won a turnover at the ruck, only for the play to continue and the ball was kicked into touch.