A dominant Shire Hall scrum saved the day against a much improved Aldermaston side.
An overcast September day was the backdrop for Shire Hall’s second game of the 16-17 season. The Sonning outfit took solace from their performance in the opening game defeat to Wheatley, and were keen to continue playing with the same commitment and intensity.
Shire Hall continued to feature new faces in the side to run out against Aldermaston. Sampling the BCSC turf for the first time were Luke, Dave and Oli who joined over the summer.
A few minutes after kick off, first blood was drawn when Shire Hall gave away a penalty within kicking range. The metronomic strike of the Aldermaston kicker found its mark and the visitors went ahead 0-3.
For the first 20 minutes, Shire Hall struggled to find the rhythm and composure that they had played with the previous weekend. Passes weren’t quite going to hand and silly infractions were being committed. On the plus side, the scrum was functioning very well and was a continual source of good front-foot ball. When Shire Hall managed to break the line they looked dangerous and Chris Walker was denied an early try by some great Aldermaston on-the-line defending.
The visitors hit back with another penalty following a foray into Shire Hall territory. 0-6, and was reflective of the pressure Aldermaston had put on the home side.
A break, down the right hand side almost put Shire Hall winger Chris Merrick over for a score but the ball was disrupted over the line by the Aldermaston defence. A few minutes later in a very similar manoeuvre Chris Merrick passed inside to the rampaging Lenny Pitt, coming off the opposite wing to dot down for the game’s opening try. Unconverted, it put the score at 5-6.
A 3rd Aldermaston penalty just before the end of the first half set the scores at 5-9. It had been a frustrating half for Shire Hall – there had been chances, but breaks had been closed off efficiently by the quick and nimble Aldermaston back 3 and covering tacklers.
The second half started to swing in Shire Hall’s favour as the intensity came back. Newcomer Oli Homan-Green was only just kept at bay as he came up an inch short of the Aldermaston whitewash. Rhys Stewart kicked a Shire Hall penalty to bring the home side within a point. 8-9.
The half was marred by a couple of injuries, indiscipline, and a yellow card for Shire Hall’s ‘Chopper’ Alex. Shire Hall’s ever-passionate sidelines supporter and ex-captain Sam Watkins was on the receiving end of the referee’s retribution and Sam’s big mouth got Shire Hall marched back 20 metres.
The game looked like it was going to be played out to a disappointingly close loss. But with a minute to go on the clock, a scrum was awarded to Aldermaston deep in their own 22. Everything was against the Shire Hall pack – down to 7 men and against the head. With a mighty push, the Aldermaston 8 were marched backwards and Shire hall awarded a penalty. Rhys Stewart stepped up, and with the last kick of the game slotted the 3 points the steal the game at its death.
The final score… Berkshire Shire Hall – 11, Aldermaston – 9.
MOTM – David Lloyd-Williams
DOTD – Sam Watkins