With good numbers for the second week in a row, Shirehall travelled to Thatcham with renewed optimism and a strong looking side. Thatcham had had a good season to date with an influx of new players enabling them to field two sides. Those who remember back three seasons ago will note Thatcham were in much the same position we have been this season.
A slight mix up with kit saw a delayed start for Plastic for the second time this season with Jerry Godfrey standing in for 10 minutes on the referees agreement.
Newly returned skipper Tom Brown chose to go with the wind first half with Thatcham kicking off. Shire started well securing possession and clearing the lines. However from there the first line out saw quick clean ball for Thatcham from which to attack. Unfortunately this was to be the common theme throughout game with Shire struggling to secure any of their own ball in the lineout. Despite good clearances from Brown and fly half Dodson, this resulted in wave after wave of Thatcham attacks from quick lineout ball.
Despite Thatchams possession and their young fast back line, Shirehall backs defended excellently and the forwards always competed in open play. Rucking and Mauling was much better from the pack than the week before and it is was good to see some aggression!
Eventually the pressure told and Thatcham scored a good try from a blind side attack. The conversion was missed however Thatcham mounted more attacks from good first phase possession. With half time approaching, Thatcham backs tried to force a move on the half way line resulting in a dropped ball skilfully collected with one hand on the run by Fly Half Andy Dodson who ran in the try close to the sticks. A missed conversion saw the scores tied at half time 5 – 5.
Shire had the wind against them second half but in good spirit they pressed on continuing to frustrate Thatcham. Shire’s inability to secure good first phase ball meant they were living off scraps and despite some ball, the wind made it difficult to get out of their own half. A good mid field clearance saw a clear knock on by the Thatcham fullback go un-noticed by the referee and although the home side did not directly score from the play, they made the territory which meant Shire had to defend their lines for 15 minutes before Thatcham eventually scored. With the scores at 10 – 5, Shire continued to scrap for possession often hindered by a whistle happy referee. Unable to mount an attack of note, the game finished at 10 -5.
Overall the spirit and commitment from the Shire boys was fantastic and the defence was some of the best all season. The team knew that the game was there for the taking and if they are in the top 2 in the league “bring it on”.
First team starts for Dave at hooker and Jeff at open side along with the return of Matt Moir coming on as a sub was good to see. Things to work on…you can’t win the game without the ball and we need to ensure we secure a good platform on first phase ball so we can dictate the game. We need to focus on winning good ball and attacking in numbers. Lets hope we have the numbers to do so at training.