SHIPSTON-on-Stour made it back-to-back wins in Wadworth 6X Southern Counties North with a battling 28-23 victory away at Bicester on Saturday.
Having won the toss, Shipston decided to play the first half up the slope and into a strong wind, with the hope of containing Bicester throughout the first 40 minutes.
They did find themselves 3-0 down early on, however, as some ill-discipline gave the home side a penalty which was kicked by their fly half to open the scoring for the afternoon.
The Rams responded very well and the pressure began to tell on the Bicester defence as a number of holes started to appear.
This gave the Shipston back line plenty of space to attack and make yards.
The first try of the afternoon went Shipston’s way and it was scored by the returning Corby, who picked the ball up on the Bicester 22 and cut back inside, beating a couple of defenders before crashing his way through for the score.
The conversion by Henry Hopkins gave the Rams a 7-3 lead.
Corby got his and Shipston’s second try in similar pattern to the first. This time, though, he had considerably further to get to the line, receiving the ball on the Shipston 22 and breaking through the centre before arcing round the covering full-back and sprinting to the line for the try.
Another successful Hopkins conversion put the Rams 14-3 up with 22 minutes of the half left to go.
Bicester fought back strongly and used the wind to good effect for the remainder of the first period, kicking for territory and pinning Shipston deep into their own half.
Their own spell of possession and territory was rewarded with a try out wide as the scrambling Rams defence couldn’t quite cover the numbers on the touchline.
From the restart, Shipston’s kick chase was very poor and it allowed Bicester easy yards back towards the halfway line.
They then recycled the ball to their No.6, who hit a piercing line between the two Shipston defenders to accelerate away and score a second try in quick succession for the home side.
Shipston were left to rue a momentary lapse in concentration and were rightfully punished, as Bicester now crept into a 15-14 lead with five minutes of the half left.
Despite the brilliant effort from the Rams in the first half to keep the scores virtually equal, they were not content with going in behind at the break and pushed hard for a third score before the interval.
Some excellent carrying up front from the likes of Josh Lewis and George Minogue pressed the home defence back and some slick hands sent Dan Taylor through a gap in the midfield and towards the try line.
Hopkins was again successful with the kick from out wide and this gave the Rams a 21-15 half-time lead.
Bicester showed tremendous heart and desire to keep themselves in the game and make it extremely difficult for the Rams after the break.
The Shipston game plan of kicking for the corners and using the wind seemed to go out of the window and they gave away far too many cheap penalties to allow Bicester an easy escape from their own territory on too many occasions.
After ten minutes camped in the Shipston half, the Bicester forwards finally managed to breach the resilient Rams defence and scored a third try of their own in the corner.
The missed conversion left the score at 21-20 in Shipston’s favour.
A penalty for Bicester with 15 minutes to play then put them back in front.
However, the Rams did not give up and as the game entered its final eight minutes, Matt Daniels was on hand to race into the corner for his side’s fourth try of the game.
The ever-reliable Hopkins kicked the extras to give Shipston a 28-23 lead.
The home side came back and threw everything they had including the proverbial kitchen sink, but the Rams held on to clinch their first away win of the season.
Shipston are back at home on Saturday when they welcome Reading Abbey to Mayo Road (3pm kick-off).