Shire Hall 30 Faringdon 3

Another Dominant Victory From Shire
Shire Hall went into the match with a buoyed spirit from two good victories in their last two. An early kick-off meant the team had rallied early to get prepared for this one. The team were confident that playing the team bottom of the table meant this was going to be another victory for Shire but there was still an air of caution before kick-off.
However, Shire got of to a flying start by running a great offloading game to make yards up the pitch. With the forwards working hard at a break down on the far right the ball came out nicely for the backs to run a slick set of hands in the middle of the park with inside centre Matt Rowlandson and full-back Alex Webb combining nicely and with one final offload to Chris Merrick who rounded off the move and gave Shire their first try of the game.
Shire then seemed to sit off and rest on their laurels and the intensity fell from the game with next 10 minutes being played solely in Shire’s half. Faringdon won a penalty for their hard attacking play, which was slotted home by the away sides number 10. This was all the reward Faringdon would see from their attacking game with a solid Shire defence keeping them at bay. However, pressure was increased when scrumhalf Sam Watkins attempted a quick tap penalty from his hands, which subsequently saw him knock on, leading to a Faringdon scrum in Shire’s 22.
The home side managed to get their head back in the game and from solid defensive work to a quick counter attack and some good attacking play led to territory being reversed into the opponents 22. An accidental offside led to a Faringdon scrum just inside their 22 but after winning it their no. 8 decided to go it alone and some good Shire counter rucking led to centre Matt Rowlandson being able to break away with the ball. Another couple of phases and Shire were just short of the try line. A short pass from the no. 9 to Captain Dave Lloyd-Williams meant he could power over to score his first of the season and Shire’s second try of the game.
The second quarter saw a dominant performance from Shire Hall with some more very good offloading play and good running from the whole team, which led to a try from fly half Rhys Thomas, his first of the season, in the right-hand corner of the pitch. This was shortly followed by some good running from the backs and in particular full-back Alex Webb who ran round the outside of Faringdon’s defence to score Shire’s 4th of the afternoon.  The half time whistle went with Shire Hall leading 20-3.
With the second half underway Shire began with another spell of high intensity and went straight on the offensive. Winning a penalty under the Faringdon posts led to a quick tap from the scrumhalf Sam Watkins (luckily this time it wasn’t knocked on) who passed to last weeks hat trick hero Matt Margot who, selflessly playing the no. 10s role, had a quick look outside him to see an overlap and shipped the ball out wide, via the centres, leading to Chris Merrick finishing  finely in the corner for his 2nd try of the game.
Following the 5th try Shire went straight back on the offensive pushing for another. A series of fine runs from the backs led to an attack in Faringdon’s 22 and after a few phases hooker Jack Proctor brushed off a couple of tackles to finish off Shires 6th and final try of the game.
The game wasn’t over yet and Shire’s resilience to keep Faringdon at bay led to an intense spell of pressure from the opposition on the home sides try line. Another brilliant spell of defence saw Shire see off the Faringdon pressure and some superb counter-rucking saw them turn over the ball and counter attack back up the pitch. This led to the opportunity for two more tries for Shire but both went astray. The first was lost when the ball was spilled from a pass on the try line by scrumhalf Sam Watkins and the second when on the break with an overlap the ball was knocked forward by full-back Alex Webb.

With the final whistle blown Shire continue their climb up the table:

Berkshire Shire Hall (30)- (3) Faringdon

MoM: Chris Merrick- Two well-finished tries

Selection for Saturday 20th December vs Faringdon (Home)

Opposition: Faringdon
Competition: League
Venue: Home
Kick Off: 1.00 pm
Meet Time: 11.45pm (players that arrive later than the meet time will be asked to donate £5 to our tour fund)
Dress: No 1s
Item: Christmas Bauble

PLEASE NOTE THE EARLY KICK OFF TIME

1. Neil Evans
2.Jack Proctor
3. Tom Smith
4. Andrew Carson
5. Mike Jerstice
6. David Lloyd-Williams (C)
7. Richard Clarke
8. Matt Margot
9. Sam Watkins
10. Rhys Thomas
11. Rhys Stewart
12. Matt Rowlandson
13. Rory Buckley
14. Harry Gyamfi
15. Alex Webb

16. Adam Bishop
17. Chris Holmes
18. Chris Merrick
19. Stuart Burgess
20. Tim O’Sullivan

Aldermaston 0 Berkshire Shire Hall 31

Shire travelled to Aldermaston in buoyed spirits. It was fantastic rugby weather, chilly but sunny. The ground had thawed and thankfully there wasn’t a hint of rain or clouds. Shire were coming into this game having upset league high-flyers Crowthorne the Saturday before. However, they knew they were going be in for a tough afternoon – the first fixture between the two teams this season finished 22-19, a very close game just edged by Shire Hall.

The same fixture in the previous season had been an Aldermaston victory, and in an effort to avoid a short, disjointed warm-up session that had marred that particular game (the author has a good memory), Shire Hall assembled in plenty of time. This was helped when we found out we had an extra 15 minutes of preparation as we were working to a 2.00 kick off schedule.

The Shire team for the afternoon consisted of a back line that has benefited from stability and consistent availability, and is now really coming into its own. The forward pack, boosted by new players this season – Rich, Matt and Will – has been operating nicely and their mobility around the park has been a real positive feature. This would actually turn out to be Will Robinson’s first full 80 minutes since playing at school.

Things were very even for the first 5-10 minutes as both teams sized each other up. Shire playing just inside their own third cleared the ball through fly half Rhys Thomas over the fast encroaching defensive line, spotting a gap behind the far winger and fullback. This started a positive spell of play of sustained pressure at the contact area, allowing Shire to march slowly up the pitch towards the Aldermaston try line.

Prop Matt Margot received the ball at the end of this period of possession a few metres out and with some big leg pumps, crossed for Shire’s first try. This was repeated almost to the letter a few minutes later, when Matt received the ball within charging distance again. He added another 5 points.

Aldermaston came back at Shire with a renewed sense of purpose. Sustained phases from the home side saw them advance down the field but their attacks were weathered with a combination of good line press and going low on the Aldermaston large front-rowers. A good line press was a feature of both side’s defensive tactics for the afternoon – Shire nearly coming unstuck by Aldermaston mid-field switches and dummy runners.

A bit of an improvised cover tackle from the Shire number 10 saw him limp off for some recovery time on the sideline. This brought on Chris Holmes at 10, and fairly shortly afterwards a third Shire Hall try. Once again from the hat-trick hero of the day, Matt Margot. This one from a bit further out, it included at least 2 cheeky sidesteps and a crash over for another 5 points. This led to discussion on the sideline from the travelling VPs about the last time a Shire Hall prop scored 3 tries in one half. (Editor’s note: it was Jason Hopper a long time ago!)

No doubt a debate that will run for weeks.

Half time saw 2 changes of personnel; winger Chris Merrick making way for Harry Gyamfi, and Mike Jerstice making way for returning-from-injury captain David Lloyd-Williams.

Shortly after the restart, centre Matt Rowlandson burst through the defensive wall, having picked up a great supporting line. A straight sprint to the try line, and a 45 metre foot race against one of the Aldermaston players rapidly covering the ground resulted in Matt getting pulled down heroically only a few metres away, denying him of his first try this season.

The feel of the second half was one of a fast offloading game. It was played with a freedom that allowed the game to fracture slightly and for our fast backs to exploit the resulting space. A swerving powerful run from Harry put him on the scoreboard.

Rhys Thomas and Chris Merrick came back on to replace Rhys Stewart and Chris Holmes on the field. More expansive offloading resulted in another try, this time for Alex Webb as he made a dart from full-back. A large portion of the game had been played in the Aldermaston half, but with 5 minutes to go, Aldermaston showed they weren’t going to give up without a fight, and ended the game well inside the Shire 22.

The score at the final whistle was Shire Hall 31 – 0 Aldermaston. We look to finish the year strongly with our next game against Farringdon(H).  The away fixture earlier in the season was a tense, nail biting affair. Hopefully, success would mean 6 wins from the last 8 games, emphasising the positive effect consistent availability really has. We just need to keep it up.

Our man of the match was Matty Rowlandson, and our dick(s) of the day were the 3 fools that wore the same Primark Christmas jumpers – Dave, Matt M and Birchy.

Report by: Rhys Thomas

Selection for Saturday 13th December vs Aldermaston (Away)

Opposition: Aldermaston
Competition: League
Venue: Away

Kick Off: 2.00 pm
Meet Time: 12.15pm @the Club – 13.00 @Aldermaston (players that arrive later than the meet time will be asked to donate £5 to our tour fund)
Dress: No 1s
Item: Christmas Jumper

1. Neil Evans
2. Jack Proctor
3. Matt Margot
4. Andrew Carson
5. Will Robinson
6. Adam Bishop
7. Rich Clarke
8. Tom Birch

9. Sam Watkins (C)
10. Rhys Thomas
11. Rhys Stewart
12. Matt Rowlandson
13. Rory Buckley
14. Chris Merrick
15. Alex Webb

16. Mike Jerstice
17. Chris Holmes

18. Harry Gyamfi
19. David Lloyd-Williams

 

Berkshire Shire Hall (26) versus Crowthorne RFC (20)

Saturday 6th December 2014

Shire edge derby with last gasp score

Shire hall took to the field against the high flying Crowthorne with quiet confidence on Saturday 6th December in their BB&O Championship. Having dropped points earlier in the season for logistical issues, Shire Hall are keen to make every point count, especially against the break-away teams at the top of league.

The opening salvos of the match were dominated by some excellent running rugby from Crowthorne with Shire Hall failing to switch on from a less than ideal warm up. With both conversions missed, Shire hall regrouped with more commitment shown to an excellent scramble defence and the objective of imposing a structure on the game. With a reshuffle in the back line which saw veteran back Tim O’Sullivan come into fly half and the hard running Rory Buckley into the centre, with Rhys Thomas moving out to the wing, Shire looked to spread play as wide as possible and challenge the Crowthorne defence. Speedster Harry Gyamfi and front row Matt Margot profited from the more disciplined game plan both scoring with prop Margot going over on the stroke of half time after another Crowthorne score. With Shire adding the extras the match was finely balanced at 14 – 15 in the visitors favour.

Some excellent enterprising play from Crowthorne led to their bonus point score but Shire hit back almost immediately. A bizarre (deliberately) shanked penalty attempt from Shire was recycled through excellent work from the Shire Hall forwards to continue to apply pressure to the Crowthorne line. Several phases later the ball was sent wide and smuggled over for a shire score which went uncoverted. This left the match at 19-20 to Crowthorne and all to play for.

Both sides took the opportunity to try and apply some attacking structure to the game with several chances being let down by either poor hands or great scramble defence. Both forward packs kept the intensity levels up all afternoon with the commitment only boiling over once as a back row from each side were sin binned, reflecting the importance of the result to each team and the battle for the smallest margins in the pack. Changes on both sides continued which meant that the pace of the game was unrelenting for the entire 80 minutes with only timely defensive interventions from Shire wingers Chris Merrick and Gyamfi preventing scores from Crowthorne breaks.

With time dying out though it was to be Shire’s day when a fortuitous bounce on a turnover was pounced on by the centre combination of Matt Rowlandson and Rory Buckley who combined to send wing Gyamfi clear for his second try of the afternoon. O’Sullivan added the extras from straight in front of the posts and Shire held on for the victory which gives them much needed momentum going into their fixture with Aldermaston next week.

MoM: Rich Clarke – Excellent in the loose and line out

Scorers:
Harry Gyamfi x 2
Matt Margot
Tim O’Sullivan

Conversions:
Tim O’Sullivan x 2
Aaron Walters

Selection for Saturday 6th December vs Crowthorne (Home – VP Lunch)

Opposition: Crowthorne
Competition: League
Venue: Home
Kick Off: 2.30 pm
Meet Time: 13.15pm (players that arrive later than the meet time will be asked to donate £5 to our tour fund)
Dress: No 1s
Item: Pub Score Golf Card

1. Neil Evans
2. Jack Proctor
3. Matt Margot
4. Andrew Carson
5. Tom Smith
6. Adam Bishop (C)
7. Rich Clarke
8. Tom Birch

9. Tim O’Sullivan
10. Rhys Thomas
11. Chris Merrick
12. Matt Rowlandson
13. Rory Buckley
14. Harry Gyamfi
15. Alex Webb

16. Will Robinson
17. Luke Barefoot

Selection for November 22nd vs Risborough (Home)

Opposition: Risborough
Competition: League

Venue: Home
Kick Off: 2.30 pm
Meet Time: 13.30pm (players that arrive later than the meet time will be asked to donate £5 to our tour fund)
Dress: Arrive in kit because ………
Item: Golf Kit/Costume for pub golf evening

1. Neil Evans
2. Jack Proctor
3. Matt Margot
4. Andrew Carson
5. Mike ‘The German’ Jerstice
6.
7. Rich Clarke
8. Tom Birch

9. Sam Watkins (C)
10. Rhys Thomas
11. Chris Merrick
12. Matt Rowlandson
13. Alex Webb
14. Chris Walker
15. Rory Buckley

16. Tom Hopkins
17. Rhys Stewart
18. Harry Gyamfi

19. Vinny Sheehy

Selection for November 15th vs Didcot (Away)

Opposition: Didcot
Competition: League
Venue: Away
Kick Off: 2.30 pm
Meet Time: 12.00pm at the Club or 13.00 at Didcot OX11 8QX Edmonds Park (players that arrive later than the meet time will be asked to donate £5 to our tour fund)
Dress: Full No 1s
Item: An Apricot

1. Neil Evans
2. Jack Proctor
3. Tom Smith
4. Matt Margot
5. Tom Birch
6. Sam Offord
7. Rich Clarke
8. Adam Bishop

9. Sam Watkins (C)
10. Alex Webb
11. Rhys Stewart
12. Matt Rowlandson
13. Chris Walker
14. Luke Barefoot
15. Rory Buckley

16. Chris Merrick
17. Andrew Carson
18. Mike ‘The German’ Jerstice

Selection for November 1st vs Farnham Royal (Home)

Opposition: Farnham Royal
Competition: League
Venue: Home
Kick Off: 2.30 pm
Meet Time: 1.15 prompt @ Club (Fines now in action for latecomers)
Dress: Full No 1s
Item: A Poppy

1. Stuart Burgess
2. Jack Proctor
3. Tom Smith
4. André Carson
5. Tom Birch
6. David Lloyd-Williams (C)
7. Adam Bishop
8. Matt Margot

9. Sam Watkins
10. Rhys Thomas
11. Rhys Stewart
12. Matt Rowlandson
13. Rory Buckley
14. Luke Barefoot
15. Alex Webb

16. Chris Merrick
17. Tom Hopkins
18. Chris Holmes