GLOUCESTERSHIRE ALL GOLDS 42 – 28 HEMEL STAGS
Ben Stead’s 22 points from a try and seven goals helped the All Golds to a third win this season over Hemel Stags and a happy end to a successful season.
The win was the All Golds’ 12th in all competitions and ended a run of three defeats that had left any hopes of a League 1 Shield Final appearance in tatters.
Having raced into an 18-0 lead, the All Golds found themselves pegged back to 18-16 before a try either side of the break ensured there was enough distance between the sides at the end of a thoroughly entertaining game.
Both sides came into the game on the back of three straight defeats but it was the home side that took the early advantage as they came out like a house on fire and rattled up three tries in the opening thirteen minutes.
Harrison Elliott powered over under the posts following a period of pressure from the home side.
Former Stag Stead then showed delightful footwork to dance his way over for his first try of the season then was on hand for the offload when Chris Barlow won the contest for the England Student international’s high kick.
His three goals took the All Golds to an 18-0 lead but the storm began to blow itself out and Lewis Fairhurst broke from a scrum to race 70 metres to the corner for a try against the run of play.
The Stags then began to dominate, their go-forward making dents in the home defence and it was inevitable that they scored, Jack O’Brien grabbing Jack Wray’s high kick to touch down.
Wray added the goal and then converted Matt Welham’s well-taken try six minutes later.
With two minutes to go to the break, Elliott’s chase of a Stead kick won a goal-line dropout and smart hands down the line saw the halves link before Danny Fallon and Phil Cowburn send Barlow over in the corner for a 24-16 interval lead to the home side.
The All Golds made an error straight from the restart but did well to win a 20metre restart and stormed upfield to extend their lead.
A long shift to the Stags’ left edge caught the visitors short and Cowburn dummied through to score untouched.
Fairhurst cut the gap four minutes later with his second try converted by Wray and the contest developed into an absorbing battle for ascendancy.
There was plenty of intensity as the sides got to grips with one another and there was a brief skirmish off the ball as tempers flared.
But things calmed down quickly and ten minutes later, the All Golds restored their three score lead as Joe McClean latched on to the rebound from a Stead kick to dive over with a quarter of an hour to go.
The Stags tried desperately to get back into the game but time was running out when Dan Hawksworth powered over for a try with four minutes left.
However, there was no denying the All Golds and Steve Parry forced his way through three or four tacklers to touch down in the corner, Stead’s seventh goal from as many attempts signalled the end to a satisfactory season for the Golden Fern.
ALL GOLDS: Alex Gaskell; Mo Agoro, Phil Cowburn, Brad Kislingbury, Chris Barlow; Jack Mitchell, Ben Stead; Harrison Elliott, Steve Parry, Harry Kidd; Billy Brickhill, Danny Fallon; Joe McClean; INTERCHANGE: Luke Stephens, Errol Carter, Kadeem Williams, Malikhi Lloyd-Jones
Tries: Elliott (5), Stead (8, 13), Barlow (38), Cowburn (42), McClean (64), Parry (79)
Goals: Stead 7 from 7
STAGS: Matt Whelham; Conor Bower, Alex Williams, Danny Lawton, Darren Forde; Lewis Fairhurst, Jack Wray; Daniel Hawksworth, Mark Barlow, Reece Williams; Jack O’Brien, James Thornton; Brett Whitehead; INTERCHANGE: Scott Lee, Sam Crowther, Daniel Samuel, Wayne Jowitt,
Tries: Fairhurst (23, 46), O’Brien (26), Welham (32), Hawksworth (76)
Goals: Fairhurst 0 from 1, Wray 4 from 4
6-0, 12-0, 18-0, 18-4, 18-10, 18-16, 24-16, 30-16, 30-22, 36-22, 36-28, 42-28
All Golds Man of the Match: Ben Stead
Penalty count: 11-6
Referee: Brandon Robinson