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Faringdon 18 Shire Hall 13

Shire Hall came up just short against a determined Faringdon team ending their recent run of good form – eventually losing 18-13.

Following a first half in which Shire Hall dominated territory and possession they went in at the break 7-5 down. Faringdon’s only meaningful foray into Shire Hall territory resulted in a converted try after their fly half ghosted through the Shire Hall defensive line and dotted down under the posts. Shire Hall responded with Alex Webb sliding in near the corner reducing the arrears, however, this was the only score Shire Hall could muster as an aggressive defence coupled with a lack of width (primarily due to the tiny pitch dimensions) kept the game in the balance.

The second half was a scrappier affair marked by a number of set pieces and penalties. A penalty a piece followed by an unconverted try for the home side gave the Faringdon a seven point lead going into the final twenty minutes. Shire Hall spent the next 17 minutes banging away at the Faringdon line and eventually with 3 minutes to go and Faringdon down to 14 men Rhys Stewart crossed in the corner to bring the score to 15-13. The conversion sailed just wide leaving Shire trailing by two points with two minutes to play. Chasing a score to win the game Shire Hall received the kick off and attempted to play with ball in hand from deep – however, after a number of phases they were eventually penalised and Faringdon added an extra 3 points to secure the game (18-13).

This was definitely a game that slipped away as a lack of precision and an inability to play the referee hindered Shire Hall throughout. Much credit must go to Faringdon who were strong in defence all game and clinical when their opportunities arose. Shire Hall face bottom side Farnham Royal at home next week where they will hope to put right the defeat of this weekend.

Berkshire Shire Hall 27 – 3 Chipping Norton

MATCH REPORT

Shire Hall welcomed Chipping Norton to the Berkshire County Sports Ground on Saturday looking to maintain their 100% home record and cement their position as 3rd in the table.
Chipping Norton who won by a large margin in the away fixture might have expected another easy ride when they kicked an early penalty to take a 3-0 lead on 5 minutes. This was not to be the case as a Shire Hall pack who were dominant in the set piece were able to take control for the remaining 75 minutes.
A rolling maul on 10 minutes marched the Chippy pack from the 22 to their own goal line and from the ensuing phase play Andy Carson crashed his way over in the corner for an unconverted try (5-3). Rhys Stewart slotted a penalty over on 15 minutes to bring the score to 8-3 and it was his clever chip through on 25 minutes that forced the Chippy full back to take the ball over his own line for a Shire Hall 5 metre scrum. The Shire scrum which dominated all day was able to walk the opposition over their line with David Lloyd Williams controlling at the base before grounding for a converted try (15-3).
The remainder of the first half and start of the second half remained an attritional affair with most of the play taking place between the 22’s. It was on 60 minutes with Chipping Norton reduced to 14 men (yellow card) that Shire Hall struck again. Taking advantage of the extra man Shire Hall camped in the Chipping Norton 22 and after a series of tight phases the defence was eventually unlocked when the ball was spun wide and Chris Walker’s looping miss pass was dotted down in the corner by Rhys Stewart, 20-3.
Shire Hall now chased the bonus point try and with 5 minutes to go they secured it. After another prolonged period of pressure on the Chipping Norton line the irrepressible Jack Proctor eventually breached the defence taking two men with him before somehow grounding the ball (no TMO was on hand to examine claims of a double movement), 27-3. Shire Hall almost had time to add one more try, however Lenny Pitt was adjudged to have just been put into touch (highlighted by Shire Hall’s very own TMO, line judge Phil Merrin) before dotting down. Final score 27-3.
 
Whilst the scoreline suggests a one sided affair Chipping Norton were competitive throughout and always looked a threat in open play. It was testament to Shire Hall’s 80 minute performance that they were able to control the game and nullify opposition’s attacking threats.
Jack Proctor was awarded Man of the Match for his strong running and physical scrummaging (labels that could be applied to every forward), whilst Neil Evans was deemed DOTD for his attempted cameo at scrum half.

 

Shire Hall Star on BT Sport Rugby Tonight

A fine representation of the club appeared on BT Sport’s Rugby Tonight this evening. A few pictures taken (albeit from my TV!)
If you look closely, you can see DLW’s shiner!

Abridged Match Report – Aldermaston 5 Shire Hall 18

Aldermaston 5  Shire Hall 18

– Sustained period of pressure straight from the kick-off. Lots of territory and possession in the Aldermaston half with the home side unable to find an escape route. Shire Full Back Webby kept fielding the clearing kicks and running it straight back at them.

– The line was eventually broken after an organised driving maul and hooker Jack flopped over, to raucous delight and much punching of the floor, after about 30 minutes.

– Scrums and lineouts aplenty in wet foggy muddy conditions.

– Half time perilously close with another score a penalty from Shire kicker Rhys Stewart (8-0). Half time focussed on making the most of the possession and converting.

– Second half Aldermaston got a bit more ball and finally managed a foray into Shire Hall territory. But to no avail.

– Prop and VC Matt Margot, a threat all game, crashes over in the second half for a try, with his bro Stef Margot (centre) bagging one about 10 minutes later. On roughly 76 mins.

– Shire Hall pushed for the 4th try and  bonus point but dropping the ball from the restart gave Aldermaston possession.

– Aldermaston got a consolation try in the last play of the game by the outside centre.

– 5 wins out of last 6 games, only narrowly losing to runaway league leaders Littlemore.

– 3rd in table!!

Man Of The Match: Jack Proctor

DOTD: Alex Webb for failing to outsprint a large prop!

 

Shire Hall RFC 36 Oxford RFC 22

Last time out Shire Hall had a narrow but encouraging loss away to league leaders Littlemore, so they were looking to get back to winning ways against a much improved Oxford side.

Shire started off the game well, with some strong forward phases being complemented by some great running rugby from the backs. Shire were quick to establish dominance in the early exchanges, quickly releasing Lenny Pitt down the wing only to be stopped short by a high tackle when going over the try line. With the try inevitable, the ref awarded a penalty try (unlucky Lenny) which was promptly dispatched by returning centre Stefane Margot. A slight error off the kick off, and perhaps a touch of complacency after scoring so early on, resulted in a penalty given away at the breakdown inside the Shire 22, with Oxford slotting the penalty to reduce the score to 7-3.

This kicked Shire back into gear with Oxford seemingly incapable of matching the force up front with the Shire forwards carrying hard and gaining yards. Indiscipline at the breakdown resulted in a penalty to Shire, kicked into touch by Stephane Margot to set up a line out 15m out. Shire won the lineout and were quick to set up a maul, marshalled by no8 Tom Birch  initially before second row Neil Evans took over, marching the pack to the try line for a simple score. Unfortunately the conversion was missed this time, 12-3 to Shire.

Shire continued to impress as the first half progressed, drawing in players with strong carries by players such as openside and Captain Rich Clarke and hooker Jack Proctor and giving fly half Dave Tridgell the space to utilise a quick and talented back line. Shortly after their second score, Shire found themselves in the Oxford 22 when prop Matt ‘hips don’t lie’ Margot spotted a gap around the side of a ruck, snaking in for a cheeky touch down under the posts, with his brother Stephane adding the extras; 19-3 to Shire after 30 minutes.

Oxford were being starved of the ball, and it soon found its way back in Shire’s hands. With space to play with, the Shire backs utilised training ground favourite ‘Shark’ ball, resulting in winger Lenny Pity who, after terrorising him so far, steam rolled his opposite man yet again and touched down in the corner. A deserved try but injured in the process, he was replaced by Rhys Stewart. Conversion missed, so Shire would enter half time 24-3 up with a bonus point already in hand.

At half time Eric Murray was replaced by Dave Holmes prompting a slight reshuffle in the pack, with Neil Evans moving forwards into the front row, Ollie Homan-Green taking the vacant second row berth and Dave Holmes occupying the blindside flank. As good as the first half was for Shire, it did not start the same as Oxford came out with renewed energy and a determination to put things right.

Oxford certainly started the second half the better of the two teams with an intensity they didn’t have before, making yards and retaining the ball to allow their youthful backline so find some space to shine. It was neck and neck for a while, before Tom Birch found himself in a little bit of space ahead of the Oxford line, cutting a good angle and smashing 2 or 3 defenders out of the way to score, but with the conversion missed the score went to 29-3. However it wasn’t long before the increased tempo from Oxford led to some serious pressure on Shire, with their big second row finally stretching over the whitewash for a score. The conversion missed, the score now 29-8.

Shire seemed almost in a daze this second half, and with the bonus point already secured, could perhaps be accused of already thinking the match was won. But Oxford hadn’t read that script, and with another backline move saw their inside centre sweep round to the outside, showing great gas to finish a well worked move. The try was converted, Oxford were working their way back into the game at 29-15.

Shire attempted to regain dominance and an attempted chip through from outside centre Luke Jellicoe saw, after several deflections, his partner in crime Stephane Margot able to dot the ball down under posts. Somewhat fortuitous with the bounce but a good finish under pressure, Stewart kicked the extras to make it 36-15.

This score took the game away from Oxford with little time on the clock, but again they rallied and after some poor tackling, uncharacteristic of Shire of late, allowed their quick 10 to jink his way to the try line in the final play of the game, which he duly converted for the final score of 36-22.

This really was a game of two halves and an incredible first half from Shire papered over a lacklustre second, with the players disappointed they were unable to press on from some fine performances early on.

Special mentions go to the contributions of Rich Clarke, Matt Margot, full back Alex Webb and Luke Jellicoe who all had excellent games, but it was the presence Andrew Carson in the second row who provided ballast in all areas of the pitch. His work rate around the pitch belied his years, and was excellent in supporting and securing ball for team. A real ‘engine room’ performance that provided the foundation of a solid win for Shire. DoD Day was a tough call, but was eventually given to Tom Birch for his penalty count within quick succession!!