RUGBY UNION: OLD LEAMINGTONIANS overcame bogey side Shipston on Stour 17-16 as they came out on top of a hard fought match against their old rivals at Bericote Road in the Midlands 3 West (South), reports Denis Fisher.
Long considered to be a bogey side for OLs, the home side won by a single point after an entertaining 80 minutes of rugby watched by a large gathering of OL Patrons.
Shipston took control of the game for the opening ten minutes of play continually launching attacks but the OLs defence held firm and came through unscathed.
The game evened out after this initial play but it was Shipston that took an early lead after 15 minutes with a converted 40-yard penalty.
OLs gradually came more into game and began to gain good territory through the forwards. After 25 minutes the pressure paid off when the ball was chipped on and captain Bradley James won the chance to touch down for the first try of the match, which was converted.
The contest remained evenly poised with Shipston coming more into game again but it was the try of the match that turned the game.
Ciaran O’Connor weaved through into the visitors half before chipping the ball over the oncoming defenders which he caught before driving over the line for OL’s second try, although this time the conversion was missed.
The try moved OLs into a 12-3 lead but almost on the stroke of half-time Shipston were awarded a penalty in front of the posts that was converted to cut the deficit to six points.
The second half followed in a similar pattern as the first with Shipston throwing everything at the OLs but the home defence was equal to the task and some thudding tackles by OLs thwarted the visitors’ efforts time and time again.
Like the first half, having weathered the initial onslaughts, it was OLs that forced the next score. From further good play both by forwards and backs OLs gradually moved into the Shipston 22 metre area and prop Craig Ellis crashed through to touch down for an unconverted try.
Shipston were in the ascendancy in the last 15 minutes but it was the hosts who almost increased their lead when Liam Wellings almost got through but for some strong defending by Shipston.
However, it was the visitors who scored next after more pressure on the home defence with two tries to reduce the OLs lead to a single point.
The hosts were on tenterhooks as the last conversion was missed but the game ended with OLs hanging on to the one point lead with both sides having served up an exciting game for the large crowd to enjoy.
OLs retain sixth position in the league and this week sees a visit to Upton-on-Severn (2.15pm).