GLOUCESTERSHIRE ALL GOLDS 36 – 28 NORTH WALES CRUSADERS
By Chris Wilson
Image by Lewis Mitchell
The Gloucestershire All Golds took a 2-1 lead in their unofficial home series with the North Wales Crusaders with a 36-28 win that wipes away the memory of their League 1 Cup exit a fortnight ago.
Head coach Lee Greenwood was delighted with the two league points that put the All Golds on the fringe of the top eight.
“I’m really pleased with the win,” he said. “Crusaders are a decent side so to get the two points is massive.”
The game was settled by a Lewis Reece try – his second of the game – three minutes from time after the lead had changed hands three times in the second period.
The Crusaders had eased into an 18-6 lead and it looked like the home side were in for another miserable 80 minutes but they fought back to level the scores with the final play of the half and took the lead in the opening minutes of the second period.
Though the Crusaders regained the advantage with two quick tries, the All Golds came back to record their third league win of the season.
The first period was a tetchy affair and players from both sides were spoken to by the referee during the 40 minutes. The All Golds were their own worst enemies with their discipline letting them down time and again and their lack of defensive line-speed allowing plenty of space for the Crusaders halfbacks to dictate play.
And it was the Crusaders halfbacks who combined to open the scoring, Ryan Smith supporting Jack Hansen’s break up the middle for a converted try. Three minutes later, Earl Hurst ran a great line to score a fine try doubling the visitors’ lead.
The All Golds capitalised on their first decent attack and won a repeat set that ended when Reece forced his way over, Ben Stead adding the goal.
Having got back into the match, they promptly frittered away their foothold with ill-discipline that caused the referee to put them on a team warning.
Almost immediately, Hurst went over for his second score, but that seemed to energise the All Golds and Harrison Elliott added some powerful surges from the bench to gain decent field position.
This brought its reward as Stead’s kick to the corner fell to Mo Agoro and the division’s top try-scorer added another touchdown to his tally.
Harry Kidd crashed over for identical tries either side of the break and Stead converted both to give the home side the lead for the first time.
However, it lasted barely ten minutes as James Dandy scored from close range but Johnson was wide with the conversion which meant the All Golds held a slender 24-22 lead. Alex Thompson then gave the visitors a four-point advantage when he powered through some ineffective defence to score.
On the hour the lead changed hands again and for the final time, Billy Brickhill forcing his way over from a standing start close to the line for his first All Golds try against his former club.
Stead added the goal and began to find his range with his kicks including a superb 40-20 that set up a chance at the game-breaking score with seven minutes left.
But the All Golds lost possession and the Crusaders looked to have gone back in front when Thompson ploughed over for what would have been his second try but the referee ruled he had lost possession in Jack Mitchell’s tackle.
The All Golds closed the game out effectively from the restart. They played out a safe set, Danny Fallon finding a good touch and then forced an error which set up the position for Reece to drive over for the winning score.
As Greenwood summed it up: “Attitude goes a long way in this sport. The last couple of weeks we’ve been off but today we stood up.
“Every single player put in a shift. Jack Mitchell came up with a huge play late on that helped us over the line.”
ALL GOLDS: Jack Mitchell; Mo Agoro, Steven Nield, Brad Kislingbury, Chris Barlow; Ben Stead, Danny Fallon; Ollie Purslow, Steve Parry, James Walter; Lewis Reece, Joe McClean; Chris Worrall; INTERCHANGE: Billy Brickhill, Harrison Elliott, Malikhi Lloyd-Jones, Harry Kidd
Tries: Reece (20, 77), Agoro (31), Kidd (39, 41), Brickhill (61)
Goals: Stead 6 from 6
CRUSADERS: Tommy Johnson; Danny Price, Callum Mulkeen, Earl Hurst, Dale Bloomfield; Jack Hansen, Ryan Smith; Johnny Walker, Lee Hudson, Warren Thompson; Simon Atherton, Alex Thompson; James Dandy; INTERCHANGE: Aaron Moore, Alex Davidson, Ryan Millington, Joe Bate
Tries: Smith (9), Hurst (12, 25), Dandy (46), A Thompson (53)
Goals: Johnson 5 from 6
0-6, 0-12, 6-12, 12-18, 18-18, 24-18, 24-22, 24-28, 30-28, 36-28
All Golds Man of the Match: Mo Agoro
Penalty count: 11-12
Referee: Tom Grant