GLOUCESTERSHIRE ALL GOLDS 12 – 18 OXFORD
With rumours gathering pace that these two clubs will be merging for next season, there was plenty of interest in what could be the last game between them.
The rivalry is such that in each of the five seasons they have met, the sides have each registered a win over their opponents. Following their 38-10 defeat at the Prince of Wales in June, perhaps the smart money would have been on Oxford to even things up.
Having ended an eleven game losing run last time out with a draw against the Ironmen, they adopted a low risk strategy with solid carries backed up by a strong long kicking game from former All Gold Kieran Hyde.
It worked well as the All Golds were kept at arms’ length and stifled as they lacked the creative flair to break through and put points on the board.
Overall, it was a low quality game. There were few chances and only one score before the break; the only meaningful action came at the midway point of a rather dour, attritional first half.
Oxford almost snatched the lead after 21 minutes when Chris Barlow fumbled a high kick and James Cryer touched down, only to be ruled to be offside.
They were not denied for long. Jordan Gill pocketed Ben Stead’s kick to the corner at the end of the subsequent set and raced 80 metres to the posts, Sam Druce converting.
The second half started promisingly for the home supporters as the All Golds regathered the kick off but frittered away the opportunity.
Mo Agoro’s half break was also wasted before Harry Kidd powered through the Oxford line and found Phil Cowburn at his shoulder for the try. Stead’s goal levelled the scores six minutes into the second half.
The All Golds were envigorated but were unable to fashion a scoring opportunity and just before the hour were punished as Oxford built what was ultimately a match-winning lead.
First, Hyde’s dab to the line caused pandemonium and the ball bounced off Alex Gaskell straight to Matt Davies who dived over.
On their next set, Davies stepped through and Casey Canterbury forced his way over, Hyde goaled both tries and the visitors had a crucial two score lead at 18-6.
The All Golds immediately hit back as Oxford lost the ball on the first tackle, Billy Brickhill snapped up the loose ball and Kidd ploughed over. Stead goaled and with 15 minutes to go the game was in the melting pot.
However, there was to be no further scoring.
Davies went close again for Oxford, taking Richard Jones’ tap back from a Danny Fallon steepler before kicking ahead but the ball trickled dead. The All Golds’ best chance came and went when Steve Parry was held inches short as he tried to crash over from close range.
An injury to Stuart Biscomb with barely a minute on the clock heightened the tension but, however hard the All Golds pressed with Kidd and Agoro making inroads, they could not penetrate the visitors’ rearguard and with Hyde pinning them back with the boot, Oxford held on.
ALL GOLDS: Alex Gaskell; Mo Agoro, Phil Cowburn, Lewis Reece, Chris Barlow; Danny Fallon, Ben Stead; Malikhi Lloyd-Jones, Steve Parry, Harry Kidd; Chris Worrall, Harrison Elliott; Billy Brickhill; INTERCHANGE: James Mason, Ross Price, Richard Jones, Joe McClean
Tries: Cowburn (46), Kidd (65)
Goals: Stead 2 from 2
OXFORD: Jordan Gill; James Cryer, Marcus Brooker, Harvey Burnett, Harrison Brough; Callum Windley, Casey Canterbury; Jonathan Payne, Sam Druce, Stuart Biscomb; Dan Hindmarsh, Matt Davies; Kieran Hyde; INTERCHANGE: Jack Harbidge, Jake Joynt, Tommy Chipchase, Brad Moules
Tries: Gill (23), Davies (59), Canterbury (63)
Goals: Druce 1 from 1, Hyde 2 from 2
0-6, 6-6, 6-12, 6-18, 12-18
All Golds Man of the Match: Harry Kidd
Penalty count: 7-6
Referee: Matthew Rossleigh