GLOUCESTERSHIRE ALL GOLDS 36 – 18 NORTH WALES CRUSADERS
Lightning struck twice for the All Golds as they dumped the Crusaders out of the Challenge Cup at the third round stage for the second year running.
There were no last second heroics this time as they controlled the game from the off and, after building a three score lead by the break, managed to hold off the inevitable Crusaders fightback to go into the fourth round draw.
The All Golds made a sensational start with two tries in the opening ten minutes. Kieran Hyde’s kick at the end of the first set of the game was fumbled under pressure by Corey Lee and Brad Kislingbury touched the loose ball down.
Alex Gaskell then picked his way through for their second score and when Joe McClean added a third try midway through the first half, the All Golds were fully in control.
The Crusaders were clearly out of sorts and they put up little resistance to the All Golds who dominated possession and field position and the All Golds had eight consecutive sets of tackles during which they scored three times.
After McClean’s score, Harry Kidd forced his way over before Steve Parry touched down for the fifth successive match, which is a club record. Hyde was only successful with two of his five shots at goal but leading 24-0 after half an hour was still an excellent, if unexpected, position.
However, the Crusaders clawed their way back into the game before the interval with two late tries. Earl Hurst bustled over out wide and then, right on the half time whistle, James Dandy crossed in the opposite corner after a kick bounced into his arms.
The Crusaders maintained that momentum into the second half with the forwards setting the platform but the All Golds were first on the board, Phil Cowburn sending Mo Agoro racing in at the corner.
Parry crossed for his second of the day taking a switch of play to force his way over the line to restore the home side’s 24-point lead.
Facing defeat the Crusaders rallied and Dandy went over out wide before Mulkeen crossed for a try against his former teammates.
With 26 minutes left, there was still plenty of time for a dramatic comeback and the Crusaders began to dictate the pace of the game. The hero of their League 1 Cup win over York, Jack Hansen booted a 40-20 but it came to nothing when the referee blew for a forward pass.
The All Golds held on, riding their luck at times until, just past the hour mark, Jack Mitchell sent in Kislingbury for his second of the game. It wasn’t a day for the goalkickers as Mitchell missed the kick but the score put them just about over the line.
Hurst lost the ball over the line but Gaskell did the same for the All Golds and despite another 40-20 from Hansen, there was no dramatic comeback.
ALL GOLDS: Alex Gaskell; Mo Agoro, Phil Cowburn, Brad Kislingbury, Chris Barlow; Josh Houghton, Kieran Hyde; Ollie Purslow, Steve Parry (Capt.), Harrison Elliott; Chris Worrall, Joe McClean; Billy Brickhill. INTERCHANGE: Jack Mitchell, Jordan Andrade, Malikhi Lloyd-Jones, Harry Kidd.
Tries; Kislingbury (1,62), Gaskell (11), McClean (19), Kidd (23), Parry (27, 45), Agoro (42)
Goals; Hyde 2 from 5, Mitchell 0 from 3
CRUSADERS: 1 Tommy Johnson; 2 Corey Lee, 28 Callum Mulkeen, 4 Earl Hurst, 5 Dale Bloomfield; 26 Jack Hansen, 7 Ryan Smith; 17 Kenny Baker, 9 Lee Hudson, 8 Johnny Walker; 24 Jack Houghton, 14 James Dandy; 13 Ryan Millington; INTERCHANGE: 27 Aaron Moore, 15 John Cookson, 16 Luke Warburton, 22 Andrew Joy.
Tries; Hurst (35), Dandy (39,49), Mulkeen (54)
Goals; Johnson 1 from 4
Scoring sequence: 4-0, 10-0, 14-0, 20-0, 24-0, 24-4, 24-8, (HT), 28-8, 32-8, 32-12, 32-18, 36-18, (FT)
Referee: Greg Dolan
Touch Judges: R Snelson, J Butterfield
Image: Alex Gaskell scores the All Golds’ second try against the Crusaders (courtesy Lewis Mitchell)