UPTON lost 23-8 at Midlands Three West (South) leaders Shipston-on-Stour without almost half the team who beat Rugby St Andrews 17-12 the previous weekend.

Skipper Max Macfarlane was awaiting the birth of his first child and missed out along with James Gammond, Matt Glading, Chris Thomas, Dan Aldersey, Dave Humphries and Will Cullwick.

With Rich Clive and Harry Stokes still unavailable, the Old Street club gave a debut to Ross Whitehead in the back row and a second start for Noah Morris on the wing.

But despite the result Upton put in a promising performance and should have come away with at least a losing bonus point if not more.

Playing on a smaller than usual pitch, Upton’s energy was first class as they defended bravely what Shipston threw at them.

But the hosts took the lead with an unconverted try after 10 minutes when they chipped over the back-line from 20 metres out and won the race to touch down.

Upton realised they had the match of the home side up front and used this to their advantage.

From a penalty on halfway, Rob Heeley put the ball into touch five metres out and from the resultant catch-and-drive line-out Heeley was at the back of the maul to touch down.

With both conversions missed, the score was level at 5-5.

The game stayed level for the rest of the half.

Firstly Shipston edged in front with a penalty and then Heeley kicked a penalty off his own to make the half-time score 8-8.

The second period though saw Shipston’s experience start to take hold.

Using powerful runners, the home side dominated possession and territory but still Upton’s defence held firm.

The home side kicked a penalty with 20 minutes left to make it 11-8 but it was not until 10 minutes from the end they got their second try when after Upton ran out of defenders they scored in the corner.

As Upton tried to get another score to reduce the arrears and maybe snatch a losing bonus point or more, Shipston stole the ball and powered downfield.

After Upton again bravely defended, they ran out of defenders for Shipston to score in the same corner.

This time the conversion was made to make the final score 23-8.

Third-from-bottom Upton visit seventh-placed Birmingham side Woodrush on Saturday.

Meanwhile, Bromyard secured an important 22-10 win at fellow strugglers Old Wheatleyans in Midlands Three West (South).

First-half tries from forwards Rob Legge and Gareth Griffiths set up a well-deserved away win.

Tom Gallagher added another after the interval while Pat Hill converted the remaining points.

The win moved bottom-of-the-table Bromyard to within one point of Old Wheats ahead of Saturday’s home game with fourth-placed Rugby St Andrews.