Evesham 22 Shipston 20
Midlands Three West (South)
EVESHAM held their nerve to claim a late victory which secured promotion to Midlands Two West (South).
The Avonsiders went into Saturday’s final game of the season knowing a losing bonus point would be enough to secure second place, but were nevertheless keen to finish in style with victory in front of the home crowd.
As it was, Ledbury’s 10-5 defeat at home to Rugby St Andrews – a fourth successive loss for the Herefordshire side – meant Evesham would have finished runners-up regardless.
However, it remained a tension-filled afternoon at Blind Lane as Evesham eventually secured a 17th league win of the campaign.
In sunny conditions and on hard ground Evesham found themselves 12-0 down to two tries, somewhat against the run of play, and this confirmed fourth placed Shipston were fully intending to spoil the party.
Fly half Mike Harris notched three points in return but the Avonsiders were unable to further effect the scoreboard in the first half and trailed 12-3 at half time.
Having regrouped at the interval, Evesham faced the tough challenge of overcoming the points deficit.
On cue, number eight Mike Ainsworth and scrum half Dan Humpston linked smartly to put Josh Sands in at the corner for a try which made it 12-8.
Shortly afterwards, Evesham’s back line cut through the visiting defence, allowing CJ Jeffery to cross in the corner before the conversion made it 15-12 to the hosts.
The tide turned again though as Shipston scored a penalty and a third try to regain the initiative at 20-15.
Then, cometh the hour, cometh the man as Evesham captain Nathan Chambers combined with centre Alexander Jackson to race home for the home side’s final try.
With the pressure on Harris, the young fly half slotted over the conversion to put Evesham ahead with ten minutes remaining.
Evesham then kept Shipston deep in their own half with smart game management and the visitors were unable to respond.