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Shelford Rugby Club seeking to secure second-placed finish during season-ending clash against Tunbridge Wells





Director of rugby Will Cotterill is eager to see his Shelford side continue to show their recent attacking improvements when they sign off for the season on Saturday (March 11).

While the Peacocks have been among the best defensive teams in the Regional 1 South East this term, at the other end of the pitch they have not always been as effective.

Second-placed Shelford have racked up a total of 466 points and collected try bonus points on seven occasions, whereas in contrast title winners Westcombe Park have scored almost 300 more points and have earned try bonus points 15 times.

Match action from Shelford’s recent victory over Medway. Picture: Jake Miles Sports Photography
Match action from Shelford’s recent victory over Medway. Picture: Jake Miles Sports Photography

Colchester in third have also been more productive in terms of points scoring, as have Harpenden in fourth, yet in their last three outings Shelford have been more free flowing in the final third.

They scored four tries in wins over Sudbury, Sidcup and Medway – and Cotterill has called on the players to follow suit as they bid to secure the runner-up spot at home against Tunbridge Wells this weekend.

He said: “We’ve had the conversation and we know we’re going to need the bonus point win to have any chance of finishing second.

Shelford director of rugby and head coach Will Cotterill. Picture: Steven Illingworth
Shelford director of rugby and head coach Will Cotterill. Picture: Steven Illingworth

“We haven’t been that great at scoring four tries or more this season. Defensively we’ve been good and have one of the best records, but from an attacking point of view we’re seventh or eighth in the league.

“Maybe some of that is down my coaching point of view. I like to start from the ground and build up, and we’ve been solid.

“Defending is easier than attacking. You need a good mindset, a good attitude and work hard – all things that do not require lots and lots of talent.

“We wanted to be hard to beat but maybe that has come at a cost to our attacking. Perhaps we’ve overcomplicated things tactically, but in this last block of games we’ve encouraged the players to play with a bit more freedom.

“They can come out of position in attack, express themselves and it’s allowed us to score more points and get more tries. It’s something for me to consider going into next season.”

With Colchester, who are five points adrift of Shelford, having two matches remaining, a second-placed finish is in the Essex outfit’s hands.

However, regardless of where his men end up, Cotterill has been pleased with how well they have adapted to life at a higher level after last season’s promotion.

“We expected to finish in the top six and hoped that we could break into the top four,” he added.

“But if we could finish second that would be a really positive season.

“It’s been a fantastic effort from the players all season and if we hadn’t dropped points in a couple of the games where we should have got more we’d have been knocking on the door of top spot.

“After we were beaten by a good Colchester performance just after Christmas we set ourselves the target of not losing back-to-back games, which we haven’t done since I took over in 2019, and finishing second.

“We’ve achieved one of those and if we can also finish second that would round things off well.”

Captain Shingai Chiwanga will miss the clash against Tunbridge Wells because of concussion protocols.



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