Shire Hall RFC 21 v 24 Chipping Norton RFC
Shire Hall welcomed Chipping Norton looking to get their season up and running following defeats in their opening two games.
The game started off in a scrappy manner with errors and infringements stifling both teams. It was Shire Hall who were to settle best and found the opening breakthrough when a clearance kick from Chipping Norton failed to find touch. Full Back Luke Jellicoe collected and rounded the onrushing defence to dot down in the far corner for an unconverted try. Shire Hall now began to dominate possession and territory and after a further 3 points were added Fly Half Tom Gough spotted a mismatch on the blindside and jinked his way over for a further unconverted try.
The final minute of the first half was to prove pivotal. After a grubber kick from Shire Hall was collected and spilt on the Chipping Norton try line, Shire Hall were then immediately reduced to fourteen men, following ‘handbags’ at the resultant scrum. Shire Hall went in to Half Time 13-0 ahead which probably did not do justice to their domination.
Chipping Norton came out flying in the second half and within minutes their quick backline had made the most of the man advantage to bring the score to 13-7. Shire Hall added a penalty to take the game beyond one score before Chipping Norton scored their second (hotly contested) try of the game. A wayward kick from Chipping Norton bounced deep into the Shire Hall dead ball area which winger Rhys Stewart (standing over the ball) deemed to have gone dead – undeterred the chasing Chipping Norton winger dotted the ball down and was awarded the score which was again converted (16-14).
Shire Hall added another unconverted try as prop Neil Evans crashed over from close range to extend Shire Hall’s lead to 7 points. Chipping Norton scored a penalty to reduce their arrears to four points before adding a breakaway try (again converted) with a minute to play and lead for the first time in the game (21-24).
Even with a minute to play Shire Hall had time to retain possession in the Chipping Norton 22, and passed on the opportunity to kick a penalty looking for the decisive score instead, which was to ultimately prove elusive.
Despite the frustration of snatching defeat from the jaws of victory this was Shire Hall’s best performance of the season especially in defence. Chipping Norton must also be applauded for fighting their way back into a game they looked out of at half time.
Shire Hall take a week off before taking the long trip to Faringdon on 20th October.