Shipston on Stour 22 Old Leamingtonians 12
SHIPSTON completed the Midlands Three West (South) double over OLs in a hard fought clash on Saturday.
It proved an intriguing affair which was dominated by OLs forward power and the home side’s fast and penetrating back division.
The game began with OLs taking the offensive and pushing the home side back into its own half for lengthy periods but they were unable to take advantage of good territorial gains.
Shipston had difficulty in breaking out from the OLs forward onslaughts but they opened the scoring in their first foray.
A slicing run from the Shipston outside centre, who was a dominant force throughout, cut through a poor defence for the opening try which went unconverted.
OLs forwards continued to exert pressure but they failed to create an opening and the lack of a score was punished by another swift counter attack.
The well drilled Shipston threequarters added a second try which was converted to give the home side a 12 point advantage.
OLs continued to dominate the forward exchanges but Shipston defended well, not always legally, and following a series of infringements close to the home line, the visitors were awarded a penalty try which Mark Foley converted.
Just before half time the continual pressure on the Shipston defence saw No 8 Jason Healey charge down an attempted clearance, collect the ball and score a well taken try to level the scores.
OLs, with the advantage of the slope, camped on the Shipston for the opening 20 minutes of the second half but were unable to convert possession into points.
The failure to score was frustrating and it was punished when some loose play in the back division provided Shipston with an opportunity to regain the lead with a try.
OLs did not give up and the game could have gone either way int but another poor defensive lapse allowed Shipston to spread the ball along the talented backs for the winger to cross over for a fourth try that provided the home team with a bonus point.
There was no faulting the effort and commitment of OLs but the defensive qualities have to be worked on if they are to continue the push for promotion.
The result returned OLs to 3rd place in the league behind Shipston.
There is no allocated fixture next week as it would have been the Warwickshire Shield quarter final but opponents Alcester have conceded the game.
In all likelihood OLs will play Shipston again in the shield semi final on February 12, the venue of which has yet to be determined.
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