Gloucester Premier: Whitehall 34 Dursley 23

First published in Sport

DURSLEY ventured into uncharted territory when they travelled to Whitehall for their first game of 2013.

They made a good start when an offload from Jack Rowe to Joe Jepps set up a penalty on the Whitehall 22 which Matt Billett made look easy from the touchline. The Dursley pack struggled against the bulk and experience of Whitehall, who managed the conditions better and with eight minutes gone they added a converted try with a push over from a five metre scrum bringing the score to 7-3.

Dursley had a chance to narrow the gap with a penalty from the halfway line but Billett was unfortunate to fall just short with the well placed kick but didn’t miss a closer attempt to bring the score to 7-6.

Good yards by Jack Western, a turnover by Rowe and some excellent distance kicking to touch by Billett put pressure on the opposition but much of it was negated by several lost line outs.

With 15 minutes left to play in the first half a well placed cross field kick from Grant Boucher released speedster Ed Sheldon to score in the corner. Billet was unfortunate to kick the conversion just short but Dursley were 11-7ahead.

Excellent work at the breakdown by Rob Camm put Dursley on the attack but the counter from Whitehall saw them pick up and drive over for their second converted try to lead 14-11 at half time.

Dursley started the second half the stronger.

An excellent take under the high ball by Sean Hughes looked to release Jepps up the wing but the offload went into touch.

Whitehall piled on the pressure at the scrum and were eventually awarded a penalty try with the conversion increasing their lead to 21-11.

Rookie Dursley scrum half Tom Head, who made his first start with composure beyond his years in difficult conditions, was replaced by Jack Pearce, who immediately made an impact by making a break to set up Western to score with Billett adding the extras and narrowing the gap to 21-18.

With time running out Jake Martin put in a crunching tackle which the referee seemed to view differently and sin binned him for the remainder of the match, and Whitehall added a valuable three points to their tally.

Dursley continued to press and a solid catch and hard yards by Simon Camm put captain Tom Broomfield through on the wing to score in the corner to close the gap at 24-23. Whitehall added a converted try and a further penalty, meaning that Dursley came away without a valuable bonus point.

Dursley are looking forward to the home fixture on Saturday against Bristol Saracens, 2.30pm.

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