Gloucester Premier League

Chipping Sodbury 22 Barton Hill 17

CHIPPING Sodbury are just three points off the lead in the Gloucester Premier Division after continuing their unbeaten start to the season with a third win.

They defeated Barton Hill at home and are now in second and closing in on leaders Longlevens,who are ahead courtesy of three bonus points.

They remain the only two unbeaten teams in the race for promotion although Barton Hill mounted a tough challenge last weekend.

From a Sodbury line-out the ball was sent wide and, after two robust recycles of the ball, Barts were found offside.

As the two packs disengaged from each other, scrum-half Tom Head took charge.

The quick tap and dart towards the line from Head’s quick thinking saw Joe Horton take a pass to stretch out and score.

Jon Cook converted to complete an all-action opening five minutes.

From the restart, Sodbury’s exit was poor. This invited Barts into the 22 and there was ferocious defensive work from Dave Guest, Matt Cook and dashing centre Dom Pullen.

When Sodbury got the ball back, they still had plenty in the tank, and turned defence into attack with big ball carriers like Tom Farthing and Pete Butcher galloping hard across the gain-line.

This pressure saw Sodbury miss a shot at goal as well as narrowly missing an audacious cross-field kick for a try.

Barts set up camp in Sodbury's 22 and from scrums and line-outs the attacks kept coming, but Sodbury’s defence stood firm.

Barts managed three points from in front of the posts after a Sodbury infringement.

And after Barts made it back into the home 22, they exploited their pick and go game and eventually Sodbury yielded for a 10-7 half-time led to the visitors.

Barts’ pack bullied them back once more after the interval. A try out wide on the left gave them a healthy lead but Sodbury fought back Luke Balentine-Smith was introduced after ten minutes and the scrummaging was on full blast as Sodbury began to take the upper hand.

Fly-half Dan Bradley kicked a penalty from midfield to just inside the Barts 22.

This was caught spectacularly at the back of the line-out by Butcher, setting up a drive. There were a few quick rucks to follow then Head struck with speed, squeezing through a gap on the fringes of the ruck.

In support was Tom Farthing. His clever pass out of the tackle to Head, who was in support, provided the opportunity for the scrum-half's first Sodbury try. Cook improved it.

Sodbury had their tails up and went close to scoring on two more.

Sodbury’s determination was typified by Guest, who was relentless in his pursuit of the Barts’ fly-half.

The pressure paid off when a clearance kick skewed infield.

Full-back James Bennett ran back hard at Barts’ half-hearted chase.

Quick ruck ball found Bradley, who, along with Butcher, Ralph and George Barnes, smashed their way into Barts 22. Cook appeared and wasn’t caught until five metres out who scored.

Barts then concede a penalty, which Cook kicked for victory.