Bream 20 Cinderford Stags 23
CINDERFORD Stags snatched a dramatic victory with a late try to wrest the Forest of Dean Junior Combination Cup from Bream’s grasp.
In an exhilaratingly edgy finale, the hosts could still have taken the game into extra time with a penalty in the dying seconds but it missed the target, kick-starting the Stags’ celebrations.
Cinderford were out of the blocks quickest but fly-half Ollie White pulled his penalty wide and Bream almost immediately fashioned a response as a quick tap penalty by scrum-half Zoe Preest followed by an incisive interchange between full-back Joe Lesperance and winger Nick Hook opened up the defence, but a great tackle by Adam Wilce forced a knock-on.
Bream then used the pick and go to make ground and after a poor drop-goal attempt from fly-half Lance Evans, he slotted a penalty but White quickly replied to level.
Bream were quickly back on the attack but failed to get a decent drive rumbling from a series of penalty lineouts.
They should have been in when number eight Dave Emery broke powerfully off a scrum and the ball was shifted quickly wide, but a wild pass meant they failed to exploit the overlap.
Evans then failed with a penalty while White made no mistake for Cinderford to take the lead.
The visitors had their tails up with centre Lewis Smith running hard and he combined with the half-backs to unleash wing Nathan Green. Wrapped up just short, the ball was recycled for centre Mike Jelf to score. White converted.
Bream reorganised and despite an impressive Cinderford rearguard, they patiently turned up the heat with a succession of penalties and then drove strongly from a lineout.
Scrum-half Preest broke away from a ruck and fed Evans, whose step inside almost took him over, but it was flanker Andrew Cooper who burrowed over. Evans converted to cut the gap to 13-10 at half-time.
Play was largely concentrated between the 22s in the third quarter with abrasive defence from both sides.
Bream wing James Bovil went close in the corner after a touchline break but the visitors stripped the ball and then White popped over a penalty.
Bream were not giving this one up without a fight and punched holes patiently until a penalty lineout provided a breakthrough with Cooper collecting at the tail. As the expertly corralled drive splintered, lock Richard Thomas was at the bottom to claim the try. The sweetly struck conversion by Evans gave Bream a 17-16 advantage. Cinderford’s cause was dealt another blow when Wilce was sin-binned and Evans popped over the resulting penalty.
But when Cinderford failed to find touch with a penalty lineout, Bovil got into a world of trouble trying to get the ball clear.
A knock-on gave Cinderford the chance to turn up the heat at a series of scrums with Smith going close before number eight Isiah Young took a penalty quickly and burrowed over. Prop James Baglin converted for a 23-20 lead.
There was still time for late drama, though, as Bream battled their way to the fringes of the 22 and won a penalty, but Preest could not convert to leave the hosts heartbroken after a cracking clash.
BREAM: J. Lesperance, J. Bovil, L. Turley, R. Awford, N. Hook, L. Evans, Z. Preest; A. Peacey, S. Coombes, D. Andrews, R. Thomas, P. Ball, M. James, A. Cooper, D. Emery. Reps: D. Hardy, A. Walker, T. Wilson, P. Pritchard, M. Doughty.
CINDERFORD STAGS: A. Wilce, N. Green, L. Smith, M. Jelf, J. Pritchard, O. White, P. Worthing; J. Baglin, R. Groves, M. Baldwin, S. Adams, J. Shields, C. Morse, D. Bradley, I. Young. Reps: T. Ward, R. Walding, J. Richards, J. Rowles, M. Bale, J. Drinkwater, T. Farmer.
STAR MEN: Andrew Cooper (Bream) and Lewis Smith (Cinderford).