Shottery 40 Old Leamingtonians 14

Shottery started their campaign with an encouraging victory at Pearcecroft over the side that had done the double over them last season. With a number of the senior players having retired over the summer, Shottery fielded a young looking team with Connor Hickey making his debut for the club at prop and Kev Costigan filling the number 9 shirt for the first time. The game was refereed by old friend of the club Chip Alater of Wellesbourne.

New club captain Eugene Hickey got the game under way with a high kick, which was recovered by his son Connor. As the Shottery pack surged forward, Old Leams were penalised at the breakdown, giving Costigan the opportunity to slot the first points of the season with a well stroked kick. With both packs testing each other out in an attritional opening quarter, it was Old Leams that were first to blink giving away another kickable penalty which Costigan slotted with ease.

Old Leams were keen to use their large centre to bash down the middle, but he met his match in his opposite number Matt Aston who defended like a man possessed. With Old Leams pressurising the Shottery line, Costigan saw an opportunity to put the ball behind their back line, the ball bounced kindly into the arms of the onrushing Pawel Haas who ran the length of the pitch to score out wide. Gaining in confidence, Shottery’s back line began to move the ball around. Eventually the pressure told and another opportunity was created for Haas to use his pace to score his second try which was converted by Costigan. 23 – 0 at half time and looking good.

Shottery started the second half as they had finished the first, by playing expansive rugby. Trying to walk the ball over the line, an easy try was squandered, much to the annoyance of the home pack which had generated good ball. The introduction of Huw George to the front row and the fresh legs of Kev Aston in the back row meant that Shottery were now beginning to dominate the scrums. Another good drive from the pack split the Old Leams defence and Haas was strong enough to finish off the break for his hattrick.

Sensing the game was won, Shottery made a number of changes, bringing John Matthews out of retirement for one last hurrah. The grizzly old bear made an immediate impact galloping through a tiring defence to score under the posts. Credit to the opposition, who did not give up, scoring a well worked try of their own, but Shottery hit back almost immediately with tries from Dafydd Bollard and the skipper to put the result well beyond doubt. Old Leams had the final say though, scoring at the death.

After the game skipper Hickey said “It’s great to get the first game and our first win of the season under our belts, but we still have plenty of work to do in training. In particular, we need to make sure that we are all singing from the same song sheet.” Shottery are currently in the pool looking for a fixture next Saturday.