Injury overshadows showpiece occasion

Eastern Counties Cup finalIpswich 7 Shelford 36AN HORRIFIC injury to Ipswich skipper Fraser Pratt overshadowed this showpiece end-of-season occasion.

Eastern Counties Cup final

Ipswich 7 Shelford 36

AN HORRIFIC injury to Ipswich skipper Fraser Pratt overshadowed this showpiece end-of-season occasion.

Pratt dislocated and fractured an ankle as he was tackled just over halfway through the first period with the visitors leading 7-0 at Humber Doucy Lane.

The game was held up for 14 minutes while Pratt lay near the centre of the pitch as paramedics made him comfortable before he was taken by a waiting ambulance to nearby Ipswich Hospital.

It was a crushing blow for the Suffolk side, who have not lifted the David Robinson Knock-Out Trophy for 29 years since the last of their three successes in 1978.

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Ipswich, to their credit, continued to put up a brave fight against their opponents who play in London One - two divisions above them - and finished the season in fifth place.

Shelford's class shone through as they forced Ipswich onto the back foot from the first whistle, but it took 18 minutes for them to find a way through their defences.

The visitors moved the ball swiftly to allow Phil Bullen-Brown to go over in the corner. Chris Glynn added the conversion.

The hard ground saw frequent stoppages as the physios were called into action, but Ipswich held firm thanks to two splendid try-saving tackles by Michael Ward.

The impressive Quinny Austin sidestepped a couple of tackles to extend Shelford's lead in first-half injury time - the half spanned 64 minutes from first whistle to last - after a spell of sustained pressure by the visitors.

Glynn failed from the conversion as Shelford turned round 12-0 ahead.

Christian Hadwen was beaten by an awkward bounce to present Glynn with a soft try five minutes after the restart, but the full-back failed to add the kick to their tally.

Five minutes later a quick break left Hadwen exposed two against one and Liam Deards went over in the corner. Glynn successfully stretched the lead to 24-0.

With the game over as a contest Ipswich, who had never even got into the visitors' 22 in the opening period, started to move the ball around and began to threaten.

However, further tries by Tim White, soon after coming on, and Steve Smith, the latter converted by prop Tony Lenk, confirmed Shelford's superiority.

Ipswich did not wilt and their spirited performance was rewarded four minutes from the end when a spell of pressure saw James Blyth go over under the posts and Hadwen convert to the delight of the home support in a good-sized crowd.

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