Bill Beaumont Cup Division One South
North Midlands 19 Gloucestershire 45
GLOUCESTERSHIRE retained their place at county rugby’s top table with a comfortable win over North Midlands at Bromsgrove.
Three tries in the second quarter put the result beyond a battling Midlands side that struggled to overcome Gloucestershire’s forward dominance.
For the third successive season Gloucestershire have avoided relegation with a win in the last game and it is North Midlands who head down to the Second Division for next season.
The Midlanders were out of the blocks faster with Luctonians wing Adam Knight scoring a spectacular try after 90 seconds following a quickly-taken penalty that Gloucestershire weren’t alert to.
A fine run by Sam Baker was taken on by Chinnor’s Leo Fielding but the move ended close to the Midlands line.
Instead after 11 minutes prop Mark George showed great pace to finish off an 80-metre counter attack for a second North Midlands try, with Tom Jones converting for a 12-0 lead.
This awakened Gloucestershire, who took play deep into the North Midlands 22. The forwards drove from a lineout and created space down the blindside for Cinderford’s Nev Codlin to score.
The conversion from Fielding was good, and when hooker Tom Bozzard scored from a driving lineout on 21 minutes it was all square at 12-12.
Fielding kicked a penalty to secure a lead Gloucestershire never relinquished a few minutes later as the visitors took the game by the scruff of the neck. Luctonians flanker Brad Talbot was yellow carded for a high tackle, then Gloucestershire were awarded a penalty try when home centre Callum MacBurnie deliberately knocked on a Sam Arnott scoring pass close to the line.
MacBurnie was yellow-carded and Fielding kicked the conversion, then added the extras to a fine try from former Dursley star Rob Winchle in first half injury time, great handling by the backs defying a cloud-burst to put the Cinderford centre through a yawning gap to score.
Half-time came with Gloucestershire 29-12 ahead.
The torrential rain abated for the start of the second half but Gloucestershire refused to ease off their assault on the North Midlands line.
Fielding kicked two early penalties then Hartpury centre Seb Rodwell scored in the corner after constant pressure on the Midlands line.
Leading 40-12, the win was secured.
To their credit North Midlands never gave up and replacement Rod Petty scrambled over for a try midway through the half.
Jones converted but it was little more than a consolation score to the Midlanders.
Gloucestershire continued to pile on the pressure and the outstanding Avonmouth No.8 Harry Hone was everywhere.
With a few minutes remaining good play by the forwards and backs created space for replacement full back Alex Frame to score in the corner.
Scorers: North Midlands: tries - Knight, George, Petty; conversions - Jones (2)
Gloucestershire: tries - Codlin, Bozzard, Winchle, Rodwell, Frame, penalty try; conversions - Fielding (3); penalties: Fielding (3)
Teams – North Midlands: Tom Jarvis (Stourbridge); David Evans (Birmingham & Solihull), Callum MacBurnie (Coventry), Stefan Shillingford (Stourbridge), Adam Knight (Luctonians); Tom Jones (Luctonians), David Brazier (Bromsgrove); Mark George (Stourbridge), Dale Garner (Stourbridge), Stefan Thorp (Birmingham & Solihull), Ed Parry (Dudley Kingswinford), Nile Dacres (Stourbridge) (c), Brad Talbot (Luctonians), Will Crane (Bromsgrove), Drew Harper (Stourbridge).
Replacements: Jamie Tsong (Bromsgrove), Anthony Marfell (Luctonians), Nick Murphy (Dudley Kingswinford), Solomon Dacres (Bromsgrove), Rod Petty (Birmingham & Solihull), Craig Mortelmans (Bromsgrove), Ben Williams (Luctonians)
Gloucestershire: Stefan Hawley (Cinderford); Nev Codlin (Cinderford), Rob Winchle (Cinderford), Seb Rodwell (Hartpury College), Sam Baker (Cinderford); Leo Fielding (Chinnor), Sam Arnott (Lydney); James Brooks (Cinderford), Tom Bozzard (Cinderford), Scott Fritchley (Old Centralians), Brett Scriven (Lydney), Lance Randall (Cinderford), Loti Molitika (Cinderford), Will Jones (Lydney) (c), Harry Hone (Avonmouth Old Boys).
Replacements: Joe Smart (Cinderford), Josh Lloyd (Dings Crusaders), Danny Hodge (Cross Keys), Roger Birkin (Cinderford), Marcus Brown (Cinderford), Reece Boughton (Cinderford), Alex Frame (Cinderford).
Yellow cards: North Midlands - Talbot (31-43), MacBurnie (36-46); Gloucestershire - Codlin (78-full time)
Referee: Jamie Leahy (RFU).