A HAT-TRICK for speed merchant Nev Codlin secured Cinderford a thrilling and much-needed 32-13 bonus-point victory over Blaydon at Dockham Road.
A second-half try from Sam Baker and 12 points from the boot of fly-half Mark Davies put the game out of sight but it was Codlin, and Mike Wilcox’s assists that ignited the crowd.
It was a welcome return to Dockham Road for the Foresters who have not played on home turf since the slender 31-29 defeat to Coventry on December 14.
After almost one month without game time, their last outing a 12-5 victory over Henley Hawks on January 25, it was a nervy start for the hosts.
A knock-on squandered an early chance for the Foresters before Blaydon set up camp in the Cinderford 22 and refused to leave, despite excellent defensive tackles from powerful winger Codlin.
Cinderford’s discipline let them down and they were pinged for not rolling away; Blaydon kicked for touch and unleashed their driving maul.
The visitors crashed over in the 10th minute with Harry Bate the man to ground the ball, but fly-half Andrew Baggett skewed the conversion wide.
The advantage was nullified just four minutes later as scrum-half Clive Stuart Smith stole the ball from the scrum in the Blaydon 22 and the forwards crept toward the whitewash with a series of pick-and-go efforts.
The ball was fired back to Codlin who ran in the try under the posts, with Davies duly adding the extras.
But Blaydon enjoyed the majority of possession in the second quarter with some abrasive work up front, but ultimately it proved fruitless as Cinderford’s defence looked mostly watertight.
Cinderford were once again penalised and Blaydon kicked for touch to set up their catch-and-drive again. But the Foresters had learnt their lesson and the effort was held up.
A penalty was all Cinderford conceded as Baggett split the posts to edge Blaydon 8-7 up.
Cinderford’s attack failed to penetrate the Blaydon defence as the clock ticked down and passing play between Davies and full-back Mike Wilcox was abruptly interrupted by a deliberate knock-on by Blaydon captain Keith Laughlin who was duly binned.
Cinderford emerged after a half-time debrief by boss Andy Deacon with renewed vigour and took the lead after just eight minutes, as Davies split the posts with a penalty kick.
As Cinderford began to secure the ball on the front foot and make ground toward the try line, Davies took the drop goal option, but his effort hit the upright.
But advantage was played and Davies kicked for the corner. The ball squirted out of the driving maul and a well-timed pass from Davies found the evergreen Wilcox who fed the ball to Codlin lurking on the wing.
The pace ace wriggled past Blaydon’s defensive efforts and he dived over in the corner for this second try in the 52nd minute.
The tricky conversion sailed wide but Cinderford were 15-8 clear.
A superb team effort saw the Foresters increase their lead in the 64th minute. Wilcox made a dash to the line before offloading to Sam Baker in support to go over for his first try of the season.
Davies converted and Cinderford set off in search of a bonus point victory with 15 minutes left on the clock.
Tenacious defence and a tireless work rate held out Blaydon’s desperate charges into the 22 as Cinderford turned the visitors over three times when the try line was beckoning.
Captain George Evans then secured possession in front of the grandstand, and Davies kick to the 22 was knocked on by full-back Phil Steward. Penalised again in the scrum, Cinderford kicked to the corner but could only leave with three points as Davies’ drop-goal effort was good this time round.
Blaydon’s efforts were eventually rewarded as they responded to the deficit with a try for loosehead prop James Hammond but it was Cinderford - and man-of-the-match Nev Codlin who had the final say with a bonus-point converted try.
The talented Wilcox made another break before passing to Codlin to dive over, much to the delight of the spectators.
Not even Codlin’s knock-on with the try line at his mercy in the final minute could dampen spirits as Cinderford recorded their eighth win this term.
CINDERFORD: M Wilcox (S Hawley, 76), N Codlin, S Hanks, R Winchle, S Baker, M Davies, C Stuart-Smith, C Bundy (W Davis, 49), T Bozzard (R Charles, 69) , E Booley, L Randall (T Hicks, 46), E King, R Birkin, G Mills (W Keenan, 61), G Evans
BLAYDON: P Steward (T Penny, 52), S Brown, T Bramwell, T Banks, F Wilson, A Baggett, J Burn, J Hallam, M Hall (S English, blood, 59), M Ward (R Morris, 40), S English (F Entressengle, 49), K Laughlin, B Morris, H Bate, M Smith (T Davison, 69)
REPLACEMENTS: C Yates
REFEREE: Ian Tempest
STAR MAN: Nev Codlin