Claverdon 2nds 7 Shottery 18
SHOTTERY’S pre-Christmas mini-tour to Claverdon proved to be a roaring success as their hosts made a significant contribution to the festive proceedings.
With a range of Christmas jumpers, Santa costumes and face-paints on display, it was difficult at times to tell the two teams apart before kick-off, however they soon got down to business as the game got underway.
The opening encounters were somewhat cagey as both teams probed to find an opening and most attacks were quickly brought to an abrupt end as the ball was either wrapped up or knocked-on.
This seemed to play into Shottery’s hands as their scrum was starting to gain the upper hand. Claverdon were driven off a defensive scrum deep in their own 22 and, with the scrum disintegrating, Shottery were awarded a penalty.
The tap was taken quickly, but the ball was held up for a maul which the Shottery pack drove over the line for tour skipper Ed Williams to touch down for an unconverted try.
Claverdon hit back almost immediately as indecision in the Shottery back line left the ball available for the Claverdon full back to hack through and touch down and the tricky conversion kick from out wide was well slotted over.
Despite the positive start, Shottery were now 7-5 down and it was clear the next score was going to be critical. With Andy Evans and Andy Houghton rattling up the tackle count, Claverdon were eventually penalised for holding on at the breakdown and Kev Costa confidently stepped up to the mark and rattled the right-hand post and the crossbar before the ball finally landed on the right side of the line and Shottery led 8-7 at half time.
The second half started with a war of attrition fought in the middle of the park, with Shottery fly half Andy Greenday looking to kick the ball into the corners, whilst Claverdon were keen to clear their lines.
One such kick was well chased by Shottery’s latest signing Howard Benjamin, who put his opposite number under pressure. With an attacking five-yard scrum the reward, Shottery rejigged their front five, bringing Richie Evans back on to partner John Matthews in the engine room.
With the front row of Huw George, Williams and Andy Barrow staying strong and Olly Scholefield superbly controlling the ball at the base, three successive scrums were driven forward, only for Claverdon to disengage.
The referee finally decided enough was enough and awarded a penalty try between the posts which was converted by Greenday.
The pressure exerted by the Shottery scrum had obviously taken its toll as Claverdon began to tire and a number of penalties followed, one of which was taken by Greenday to extend the lead to 11 points.
With Shottery now very much on the front foot, Claverdon never really threatened again as the game went through its final stages.
After the game, Shottery skipper Williams said: “This was a great result against a good Claverdon team that had beaten us earlier in the season. The damage was done up front by the pack.”
It got even better for Shottery in the clubhouse afterwards as they went on to win most of the bar games as well in an extremely entertaining evening.
Shottery are at home to Banbury Veterans this weekend.