Brave fightback by county hopes hit by home loss in thrilling match
GLOUCESTERSHIRE scored five tries at Clifton, but visitors Kent claimed seven of their own and deservedly won 42-33 in an entertaining encounter in Division One South of the Bill Beaumont County Championship.
The home side did well to fight back from 37-14 down to 37-33 with 10 minutes remaining, but Kent scored again with four minutes left and finished the stronger side.
Kent began the game well and scored wide on the left after 10 minutes through winger Kwako Asiedu. Skipper Mark Cooke could not convert, but the former Bristol player stretched the Kent lead with a 15th minute penalty.
Kent scored their second try when another good run from Nathan Thomas resulted in centre Alex Pickersgill crossing in the left corner. Again Cooke could not add the extras.
Gloucestershire had rarely featured in attack, but a series of penalties and lineout drives in the visitors’ 22 eventually paid dividends in the 36th minute when Cinderford No.8 Harry Hone plunged over the line from a maul.
Flanker George Angell won the lineout, prop John Lloyd made the initial charge, and Hone did the rest from close to the line. An excellent touchline conversion from Tom Webb narrowed the deficit to six points.
More penalties and lineout drives ensued, and with injury time already being played, Dings Crusaders hooker Tom Anderson was driven over for a try, Webb’s conversion giving his side the lead for what was to prove to be the only time in the game.
The first half continued, and 52 minutes had elapsed when Kent regained the lead. Jack Daly took a quick tap penalty in the home 22, and the ball was moved to the right where full back Aiden Moss touched down in the corner. A brilliant conversion from Cooke gave Kent a 20-14 half time lead.
Daly was again influential straight
after the break, when his high kick to the left corner provided a bonus point try for replacement Craig Dowsett. Cooke’s conversion attempt looked to be on target, but the ball dipped under the bar.
Gloucestershire lost Webb to the sin bin for tackling in an offside position and Kent were quick to capitalise as Pickersgill claimed his second try after a flowing three-quarter move. Cooke again missed the conversion, but Gloucestershire looked to be in trouble at 30-14 down.
Five minutes later things got worse when winger Ricky Mackintosh burst through several attempted tackles to score a try to the right of the posts. Cooke converted, and Kent had a lead of 23 points.
To their huge credit Gloucestershire mounted a spirited recovery. Spurred on by a stirring performance from Hone, they claimed their third try.
Skipper Joe Smart made a strong burst, and Hone was there in support to get his second touchdown of the afternoon. Webb struck the conversion well, but the ball drifted wide to the left.
With 18 minutes remaining Gloucestershire were handed a lifeline and a bonus point try when Newent centre Will Mansfield intercepted on his own 22 metre line and ran the length of the field to score under the posts. Webb converted with ease and the score was now 37-26 to Kent.
Ten minutes remained when Gloucestershire scored again. Hone was the catalyst, taking a tap penalty close to the visitors’ line, and replacement hooker Sam Evans of Thornbury dived over to score. Webb’s conversion cut the deficit to four points, and a thrilling finish looked to be in prospect.
Sadly for the home supporters, Kent quickly regained the upper hand, and they rarely looked in trouble in the closing stages.
A good move saw centre Kieran Moffatt score a try on the left, and although Cooke missed the conversion Kent had done more than enough to win the game.
Gloucestershire can feel proud of their second half fightback, and will hope for a better result when they travel to Hertfordshire for their last game, but Cornwall look the likely group winners when the final Division One South matches are played on Saturday.
James Dean (Newent) on the charge for Gloucestershire
Cinderford’s Harry Hone touches down for his second try