Berkshire Shire Hall travelled to Farnham Royal on a miserable Saturday afternoon looking to build on a good result last week against Faringdon. The away side travelled with a strong squad and with options on the bench that could change the game, they fancied their chances of victory.
Shire Hall started well with a deep kick from Rhys Stewart putting early pressure right from the off. The forwards established a dominance from the lineout early on and the backs once released were able to run well with the ball and make good yards. It was only a matter of time until Alex Webb found Rhys Stewart with a kick chipped over the defensive line allowing him to score the first try in the corner.
A fight back from Farnham was expected and they were able to put some pressure on the scrum. The game was beginning to get scrappy and following a period of sustained pressure Farnham were able to level the scores. Shire Hall regrouped and tightened up the defence, a break from the centres Stephane Margot and Luke Jellicoe opened up some space down the right wing and freed Rhys Stewart to score his second try of the game and this time the conversion.
Shire Hall started to put more pressure on Farnham Royal and continued to create good chances down the wings. Eventually the third breakthrough came once Shire moved the ball across the pitch well and then once the space opened up swung the ball back across the pitch to allow prop Matthew Margot to dive into the corner. Shire Hall went into the break with a 17-5 lead.
A slow start to the second half with some sloppy defending allowed Farnham Royal to score another try to bring it to 17-10. A spell of pressure from Farnham Royal was soaked up following the score and eventually Shire Hall got the game back under control when Rhys Stewart slotted a penalty to give a 10 point margin. The Shire Hall discipline was slipping and Farnham Royal were able to make good yards following a number of penalties, taking the three points proved to be a smart decision as Farnham Royal went over with another try.
A number of good chances fell to Shire Hall but good defensive work from Farnham Royal prevented further scores from the away side. Eventually the final breakthrough came when a rarely overthrown lineout fell into the arms of DLW at the back of the line who was able to smash the ball through a couple of defenders to wrap up the bonus point. Rhys Stewart slotted the conversion for a 27-15 win.
A great result for the Shire Hall lads, putting to rest the poor performances against Farnham Royal last season. With momentum continuing to build Shire Hall will be confident of a decent result when hosting Harwell next week.
MOTM: Luke Jellicoe
DOTD: Eric Murray (for having a punchable face)
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