Selection for Saturday 17th January vs Harwell (Home)

Opposition: Harwell
Competition: League
Venue: Home
Kick Off: 2.15pm
Meet Time: 1.00pm (players that arrive later than the meet time will be asked to donate £5 to our tour fund)

Dress: No 1s
Item: A Pinned Badge

1 Neil Evans
2 Matt Doughty
3 Matt Margot
4 Mike Jerstice
5 Will Robinson
6 David Lloyd-Williams (C)
7 Adam Bishop
8 Tom Birch
9 Sam Watkins
10 Rhys Thomas
11 Luke Barefoot
12 Matt Rowlandson
13 Rory Buckley
14 Rhys Stewart
15 Alex Webb

16 Tom Smith
17 Stuart Burgess
18 Chris Merrick
19 Andrew Carson
20 Harry Gyamfi

Farnham Royal 3 Berkshire Shire Hall 12

Shire Hall Edge Thrilling Victory
With Berkshire Shire Hall having won their last 3 matches in 2014, there was a sense of quiet confidence heading into the first game of the New Year in which would be a hard fought away game at Farnham Royal. Farnham have also enjoyed a purple patch of late, pushing both Risborough and Didcot (two of the league’s leaders) exceedingly close.
The first game between Shire Hall and Farnham was a tense affair, and the return fixture proved no different. The early exchanges saw both teams prodding and probing to no avail, with the Shire Hall defence repelling the strong ball carriers of Farnham and Farnham aggressively competing at the breakdown giving Shire Hall poor ball to play with. As with the previous encounter against Farnham, tempers flared early with the opposition hooker being sin binned after reacting badly to being tackled. With the two packs fiercely competing, Stuart Burgess entered the fray for Neil Evans to freshen up the front row.
What should have led to a spell of dominance from Shire Hall being a man up actually lead to the reverse, with Farnham being galvanised by their sin binning and constructing a series of phases with big carries from their back row and centre partnership. Rhys Thomas, growing in stature at fly half with every game, delivered an assured performance and organised the defence well and contributed with some well-timed tackles, whilst flanker Rich Clarke continued his impressive run of form scything down everything in front of him and snaffling any loose ball that was spilt. Other notable defence efforts came from second row paring Andrew Carson and Will Robinson, the centres of Matt Rowlandson and Rory Buckley, and winger Chris Merrick. Farnham continued to press and when realised the devout defence they were up against, tried their best to utilise the swirling wind by bombarding winger Harry Gyamfi and full back Alex Webb with high balls, both passing the test and adding a combination of strong running rugby and tactical kicking to relieve the pressure.
Half time came and went with the score remaining at 0-0, accurately representing the nullifying effect both teams had on the other’s attack. One substitution at half time led to Chris Merrick being replaced by Rhys Stewart. Reacting to the score, Shire restarted the game with a renewed drive but it was Farnham Royal who dominated the early exchanges. With continued pressure from Farnham Royal, Shire conceded a penalty in their own 22 which was slotted by the opposition 10. 3-0 to Farnham.
An excellent reaction to these points allowed Shire to begin their ascendancy, starting to dominate the breakdown and with destructive running from Matt Margot and Jack Proctor, giving scrum half Sam Watkins the quick ball he needed to release the backs. With the ever swirling wind still in full effect, this made our expansive game difficult and we saw a good few chances go begging as Shire pushed for a score. The set piece was a big part of this game, with plenty of scrums which was again an evenly contested battle with both sides winning ball against the head, and the lineout difficult for both hookers with such a strong wind. Tom Birch, our No 8 throwing in today, delivered exceptional consistency with hitting his man along with Captain Dave Lloyd-Williams mopping up the ones that went astray from both hookers at the tail. Will Robinson who was a continuous threat in the lineout and the loose, was replaced by Mike Jerstice adding his energy around the park.
A tiring Farnham side started to creak, with a revitalised Neil Evans coming back on for the last 20 minutes, romping around the park belying his years and increasing the pressure on their defensive line. More substitutes came into play with Luke Barefoot replacing Harry Gyamfi on the wing, Tom Smith for the injured Jack Proctor and Adam Bishop for Dave Lloyd-Williams at blind side. The squad strength in depth proved too much for Farnham, allowing Rory Buckley to crash over twice in the dying minutes, with Rhys Stewart adding the final conversion taking a losing bonus point away from the home side. The game was marred with a straight red card in the last minute, with the Farnham 7 losing his cool and head-butting Sam Watkins but it was late enough to not alter the score.
Farnham Royal 3 – 12 Berkshire Shire Hall
MoM: Rory Buckley – solid defensively and finished the game with two well taken tries

Selection for January 10 vs Farnham Royal (Away)

Opposition: Farnham Royal
Competition: League
Venue: Away
Kick Off: 2.15pm
Meet Time: 12.00pm (players that arrive later than the meet time will be asked to donate £5 to our tour fund) 13.00 at Farnham (SL2 3BP)
Dress: No 1s
Item: £35 for Players’ Shirts (those that want one- order to be completed shortly)

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

16 Tom Smith
17 Stuart Burgess
18 Adam Bishop
19 Mike Jerstice
20 Rhys Stewart
21 Luke Barefoot

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