Bill Beaumont Cup Division One South
Gloucestershire 19 Hertfordshire 30
HERTFORDSHIRE were better than Gloucestershire in every facet of a disappointing game and cruised to a comfortable victory at windswept Cinderford.
Gloucestershire never recovered from trailing 20-5 at half-time and, although finishing stronger, they failed to deal with the higher tempo of the Hertfordshire side and made too many mistakes.
The visitors had a perfect start. Kicking off with a fierce gale at their backs they applied early pressure and No 8 Matt Chambers exploited some poor tackling to score after 95 seconds. Josh Sharp converted for a 7-0 lead.
Gloucestershire came back strongly and after several charges on the line a long pass from Mike Wilcox created space for Leo Fielding to score out wide.
The conversion missed, but Gloucestershire thought they had gone ahead shortly afterwards when skipper Rob Winchle intercepted on the Hertfordshire 22 and ran in only to be called back for an earlier infringement.
Sam Arnott was yellow-carded for petulance as the game entered its second quarter and Sharp kicked a penalty, shortly followed by a second.
Then after Gloucestershire messed up the restart, Hertfordshire attacked from the scrum and after good handling fullback Henry Robinson scored between the posts, dislocating his shoulder in the process. Sharp added the extras for a 20-5 lead.
Within seconds of the second half, the visiting forwards drove Torran MacDougall over for a third try and a 25-5 lead.
Gloucestershire continued to try to muscle their way over then they exploited the blind-side of a goal-line ruck and Fielding crashed over in the corner. He converted from the touchline with a fine kick to reduce the deficit to 25-12.
Hertfordshire scored again to put the nail in Gloucestershire’s coffin. Impressive back-rower Billy Johnson surged upfield on a fine run and put hooker Jack Singleton in for the fourth try.
Gloucestershire threw everything at Hertfordshire and George Boulton was twice called back when clear for forward passes before former Dursley player Winchle scored a consolation try with a few minutes remaining.
Fielding converted but Gloucestershire had too much to do and Hertfordshire held out for a deserved win.
It doesn’t get easier for Gloucestershire, who take on last season’s runners-up Cornwall in Camborne next weekend knowing a significant improvement is essential.
Gloucestershire: tries - Leo Fielding (2), Rob Winchle; conversions - Leo Fielding (2)
Hertfordshire: tries - Matt Chambers, Henry Robinson, Torran MacDougall, Jack Singleton; conversions - Josh Sharp (2); penalties - Josh Sharp (2).
Gloucestershire: Stefan Hawley (Cinderford); Nevaro Codlin (Cinderford), Seb Rodwell (Hartpury College), Rob Winchle (Cinderford) (c), Leo Fielding (Chinnor); Mike Wilcox (Cinderford), Sam Arnott (Lydney); Joe Smart (Cinderford), Tom Bozzard (Cinderford), Josh Lloyd (Dings Crusaders), Brett Scriven (Lydney), Simon Gaynor (Worthing), Roger Birkin (Cinderford), Will Jones (Lydney), Mike Uren (Dings Crusaders).
Replacements: Nathan Taylor (Hartpury College), Scott Fritchley (Old Centralians), Marcus Brown (Cinderford), James Brooks (Cinderford), Reece Boughton (Cinderford), George Boulton (Hartpury College), Harry Hone (Avonmouth Old Boys)
Hertfordshire: Henry Robinson (Darlington Mowden Park); Stuart Smart (Hertford), Sam Winter (Bishops Stortford), Steven Ellis (Luton), Nick Hankin (Bishops Stortford); Josh Sharp (Saracens), Stefan Liebenberg (Old Albanians); William Briggs (Old Albanians), Jack Singleton (Oaklands College), Sean Edwards (Bishops Stortford), Lloyd Bickle (Old Albanians), Byron Odell (Hertford), Billy Johnson (Old Albanians) (c), Oliver Cooper-Millar (Old Albanians), Matt Chambers (Old Albanians).
Replacements: Brent Lemiere (St Albans), Oliver Walliker (Swindon), Torran MacDougall (Hertford), Josh Corcoran (Hertford), Hilton Nudarike (Amersham & Chiltern), Dom Regan (Old Albanians), Dan Holmes (Old Albanians)
Referee: Graham Dickens (RFU)