National U20 Championship Pool Four
Kent U20 25 Gloucestershire U20 16
GLOUCESTERSHIRE failed to make the most of a bright start and dominant first half to succumb to a Kent side, who were better finishers and made less errors.
With several Bristol-based players on duty for their clubs in the Combination Cup, the Gloucestershire side had an unfamiliar look to it at the Queen Mary University of London Ground.
With a gale at their backs, Gloucestershire kicked off and after Dan Spencer-Tonks had created space out wide, Thornbury and ex-Dursley winger Ed Sheldon was far too fast for the Kent defence and scored in the corner. Jack Skelton missed the conversion but it was an excellent start for Gloucestershire.
Gloucestershire continued to dominate possession but there was a reluctance to use the strong wind and peg Kent back with diagonal kicks.
Instead a high-tempo strategy was adopted but the error rate was high and the first quarter ended without further score.
Powerful drives, particularly from the Gloucestershire props, cut holes in the Kent defence but several half-chances were squandered.
The unfortunate Spencer-Tonks knocked on when clear after forwards and backs had combined to prise open the resolute Kent defence and a pass to the unmarked Ryan Woodhouse was adjudged forward with the wing close to the Kent line.
Skelton increased the lead with a penalty on the half-hour but Kent hit back with a try from a five-metre lineout. Impressive flanker Seb Nagle-Taylor was awarded the try.
Gloucestershire tried to cancel out the score in the dying minutes of the first half but again handling errors denied them chances and the half ended with the visitors 8-5 ahead.
It didn’t seem a big enough lead to survive the powerful gale in the second half.
However, Gloucestershire started the second half well with some useful carries from the forwards and more accurate movement of the ball across the three-quarters.
Kent infringed after a prolonged attack featuring many phases and Skelton kicked his second penalty.
However, Gloucestershire were beginning to infringe too much and the penalty count began to rise sharply.
Full back Ryan Redman kicked a penalty for Kent to bring the score to 8-11, then Guy Hilton capitalised on a slip in the Gloucestershire defence to spin in for a try, which put Kent ahead.
Redman converted then added a penalty to put Kent 18-11 clear.
Gloucestershire hit back almost immediately. Luke Panting secured a valuable turnover and Sheldon was again given space to run in. He raced past two players on a sprint for the corner but the cover tackled him to touch three metres out.
Kent made a mess of their lineout and Gloucestershire moved the ball first into midfield, then to the right where Woodhouse changed direction and cut back inside. He found Angus Hodges in support and the lock burst through a tackle and raced through a gap to score a fine try.
Skelton’s conversion went wide but it was game on again at 18-16.
However, Gloucestershire again made handling errors and by now were annoying the referee, who awarded Kent numerous penalties.
When Nagle-Taylor finished off Kent’s third try the game was out of Gloucestershire’s reach.
There is plenty for coach Mike Panoho to work on ahead of next Sunday’s re-arranged game with Hertfordshire at Cinderford.
Scorers: Gloucestershire U20: tries - Ed Sheldon, Angus Hodges; penalties - Jack Skelton (2)
Kent U20: tries - Seb Nagle-Taylor (2), Guy Hilton; conversions - Ryan Redman (2); penalties - Ryan Redman (2)
Gloucestershire U20: Jack Skelton (Weston-Super-Mare); Ryan Woodhouse (Matson), Sam Hanks (Cinderford), Daniel Spencer-Tonks (Old Centralians), Ed Sheldon (Thornbury); Ollie Locke (Old Centralians), Sam Watkins (Cinderford); Raymond Chase (Barton Hill), Finlay Sinclair (Cinderford), Lyon Kent (Gordon League), Lance Randall (Cinderford) (c), Angus Hodges (University of Gloucestershire), Ryan Roach (Cleve), Connor Jones (Matson), Ben Charlton-Hibbert (Filton College)
Replacements: Matt Williams (University of Gloucestershire), Ben Large (Drybrook), Chance Ridler (Cinderford), Dean Brooker (St Mary’s University), Luke Panting (Thornbury), Jack Western (Thornbury), Robson Skipsey (Cinderford).
Kent U20: Ryan Redman (Medway); Kwako Asiedu (Canterbury), Alex Smith (Westcombe Park), Ben Hennah (Westcombe Park), Max Hobbs (Tonbridge Juddians); Guy Hilton (Canterbury), Tommy Fuller (Guildford); Julius Redman (Tunbridge Wells), Sam Cooksley (Havant), Munro Third (Sevenoaks), Connor Tallis (Old Elthamians), Matt Golding (Sheppey), Seb Nagle-Taylor (Blackheath) (c), Dan Huntley (Medway), Rob White (Old Alleynians)
Replacements: Sam Kenny (Thanet Wanderers), Chris Buckler (Old Beccehamians), Jack Pilditch (Old Elthamians), Andy O'Malley (Old Colfeians), Nick Hill (Medway), Josh Livett (Westcombe Park), Owain Fussell (Canterbury).
Referee: R Coetzee (South African Society).