Faringdon RFC 19 v 20 Shire Hall RFC
Shire Hall edged past Faringdon with a last gasp try to exorcise the demons of the last minute Chipping Norton defeat.
Faringdon away is a difficult encounter for any team as the home side utilise their big pack and the big boot of their fly half to make full advantage of their small pitch. A raft of unavailable players meant that Shire brought a reshuffled squad with no recognised forward cover on the bench.
However, after only two minutes Shire Hall were able to stretch the Faringdon defence with Alex Webb scoring under the posts to give them the perfect start (0-7).
Playing with the strong wind behind them Shire Hall were guilty of putting their boot to ball a little too often and Faringdon used a pick and go game which negated the wind for long periods of the first half. After one such spell of possession Faringdon broke the Shire Hall line and deservedly levelled the scores (7-7). Following this Shire Hall spent the rest of the half in Faringdon territory and after Rhys Stewart slotted a penalty to retake the lead, the Shire Hall pack drove a lineout maul over in the corner (finished by Neil Evans) to take a 7-15 lead in at half time.
Faringdon with the wind behind them were always going to be a threat as every penalty in the Shire Hall half had the potential to be converted. This fear was realised as despite not entering the Shire Hall 22 in the second half the prolific Faringdon Ten kicked four from four penalties (all from between the 10 metre and halfway line) to take them into a 19-15 lead with fifteen minutes remaining.
Facing an uphill challenge Shire Hall dug in and gathered possession straight from the restart and spent the remainder of the game in Faringdon’s half. After numerous phases on the Faringdon line, many illegally ended Shire Hall thought they scored only for the referee to deem it held up. After a number of reset scrums Shire Hall finally made the pressure count as Matt Margot crashed over from short range with the last action of the game, cueing celebrations in the Shire Hall ranks (19-20).
With winnable fixtures coming up this game should act as the springboard for Shire Hall to really kick start their season.