Match Report Glouc 31 v Herts 29 12-5-18
Bill Beaumont Cup 12-5-18 @Lydney RFC
Gloucestershire 31 Hertfordshire 29
Gloucestershire are one victory away from a Twickenham final following a thrilling late victory at Lydney. Visitors Hertfordshire looked to have the game sewn up with a 29-17 lead going into the final five minutes, but two late scores saw the home team snatch the game.
From the very first scrum it was clear that the Gloucestershire forwards had the measure of their opponents. With just three minutes on the clock, the home eight pushed the visitors off their own ball, and scrum half James Dean fed flanker Matt Lane, who crossed for a try on the right. Full back James Moffat was unable to convert, and Hertfordshire hit back six minutes later when centre Jack Scantlebury set up a try under the posts for prop Tom McCrone. Full back Sean Taylor’s conversion put his side ahead.
Both sides made numerous handling errors during the first half, and there was no further scoring until just before the half hour mark when Hertfordshire increased their lead with a try under the posts from flanker Harry Elbrow, again from a Scantlebury pass. Taylor converted for a 14-5 lead.
Gloucestershire enjoyed a purple patch in the latter stages of the first half, with their scrum continuing to cause Hertfordshire problems. Outside half Danny Pointon jinked in for a try under the posts five minutes from the break following a pass from Dean, with Moffat’s conversion further reducing the deficit. Then Lane, who had an outstanding afternoon in the home back row, raced 30 metres up the left touchline to score his second try. Gloucestershire led 17-14 at half time.
The home side made the worst possible start to the second half, conceding two tries in the opening seven minutes. First, scrum half Ben Creasey caught Gloucestershire off guard with a quick tap penalty and Taylor ran through some weak defence to score under the sticks. Soon afterwards, outside half Dan Watt dodged over for a try on the left, and with Taylor converting the first of the tries Gloucestershire trailed 26-17.
That was how the score remained for most of the remainder of the game. Hertfordshire looked comfortably in control, while the home side looked woefully out of sorts. They struggled to retain possession, with the lineout in particular misfiring badly, and only in the scrums did they remain clearly superior.
With seven minutes of normal time left, Hertfordshire looked to have sealed the result with a Taylor penalty. However, Gloucestershire were given a lifeline on 78 minutes when they were awarded a penalty try following a lineout drive. McCrone was yellow-carded at this point, and Gloucestershire threw everything into a desperate last attack. They kept the ball brilliantly during a series of phases, and with 80 minutes showing on the clock replacement forward Rich Hance broke clear on the edge of the Hertfordshire 22. Showing incredible determination and pace, he held off the challenge of the pursuing Taylor to touch down to the right of the posts just before he was tackled.
All now rested on Moffat’s conversion attempt, and he never looked like missing it. Even then Gloucestershire were not quite home and dry as they had to survive two minutes of added time. However, the scrum took control once more and the final whistle heralded a remarkable comeback which had not looked even remotely likely for much of the second half.
Tries: Lane (2), Pointon, Hance, plus penalty try
Con: Moffat (2)
Tries: McCrone, Elbrow, Taylor, Watt
Con: Taylor (3)
Gloucestershire (Cinderford unless stated): J Moffat, S Hawley, W Mansfield (Newent), R Winchle, K Little, D Pointon, J Dean (Newent), J Smart (captain), S Wilkes (Stourbridge), J Elliot, J Shields, R Fuller (Hartpury), M Lane, W Keenan, H Hone
Replacements: M Addis (Newent), T Brockett, R Hance (Old Patesians), R Webb (Newent), M Bennett, T Webb (Newent), C Gellert (Newent)
Hertfordshire (Hertford unless stated): S Taylor, L Barber (Harpenden), R Streets, J Scantlebury (Old Albanians), S Barnes (Tring), D Watt (Old Albanians), B Creasey, W Roberts (Bishop’s Stortford), O Walliker (Old Albanians), T McCrone (Bishop’s Stortford), R Conquest (Cambridge, captain), H Green (Tring), J Elston, H Elbrow (Old Albanians), N Radley (Tring)
Replacements: A White (Old Albanians), L Castiglione, S Jones, D Archer, T Bednall (Old Albanians), J Rea (Bishop’s Stortford), M Thompson (Old Albanians)