North Midlands 19
GLOUCESTERSHIRE romped to a six-try victory over fellow strugglers North Midlands to maintain their place in county rugby’s top flight.
But they had to do it the hard way, clawing their way back into the game after shipping two early tries at a rain-drenched Bromsgrove.
The turning point came just before the interval when the home side had two players sent to the bin with referee Jamie Leahy also handing the visitors a penalty try to give them a convincing 29-12 lead.
And from then on there was no way back for North Mids as they conceded 45 points for the third successive game.
Lydney flanker Will Jones captained the side and admitted they already had an eye on next year’s competition.
“Over the last three weeks there has been a definite progression in our performances culminating today in a bonus point victory so we are really pleased with that,” he said.
“The first two results didn’t go our way but we could easily have picked up two victories and today’s win would have taken us to Twickenham.
“We have a young squad though and they will learn from that and, with two home games next year we could potentially get there.”
There were just two minutes on the clock when winger Adam Knight crossed for North Mids’ first score and this was followed ten minutes later by prop Mark George, the latter being converted by Tom Jones.
The Gloucestershire skipper added: “When they scored those early tries we were thinking ‘here we go again’. We have a habit of not starting the best and to be fair to them, they came out the blocks, got into us and were good value for their lead.
“But we have enough good players to realise that 80 minutes is a long time and we knew that our chances would come.”
And it turned out there was no reason to panic as Cinderford pair Nev Codlin and Tom Bozzard dotted down with a conversion from Chinnor’s Leo Fielding levelling the scores midway through the half.
With ten minutes of the half to go, the home side were reduced to 14 men when back row Brad Talbot was given a yellow card for a high tackle. Six minutes later he was joined in the sin bin by centre Callum MacBurnie for a deliberate knock-on which also prompted referee Jamie Leahy to award Gloucestershire a penalty try.
Robbie Winchle then added a fourth with Fielding’s conversions opening up a 29-12 lead for the visitors.
The second half was one-way traffic with Fielding slotting over back-to-back penalties before continual pressure on the North Mids line resulted in Hartpury’s Seb Rodwell going over.
A converted Rod Petty try could do little to lift the gloom for the home side and there was still time for replacement Alex Frame who add a sixth following more good work from Fielding.
North Mids: Jarvis, Evans, MacBurnie, Shillingford, Knight, T Jones, Brazier; George, Garner, Thorp, Parry, N Dacres, Talbot, Crane, Harper. Reps: Tsang, Marfell, Murphy, S Dacres, Petty, Mortelmans, Williams.
Gloucestershire: Hawley, Codlin, Winchle, Rodwell, Baker, Fielding, Arnott; Brooks, Bozzard, Fritchley, Scriven, Randall, Molitika, W Jones, Hone. Reps: Lloyd, Smart, Hodge, Birkin, Brown, Boughton, Frame.