- Gloucestershire beaten by defending champions Hertfordshire
- Battle to avoid relegation next weekend
Hertfordshire 56 Gloucestershire 22
Photo: RFU Archive
Gloucestershire were taught a lesson by the impressive Hertfordshire backs as the defending County Champions ran in eight tries at Hertford. Gloucestershire never gave up and secured a try bonus but struggled to deal with the dynamic home three-quarters, who scored 21 points in the first eight minutes of the second half. Never before had Gloucestershire conceded so many points in a match.
Hertfordshire were unlucky not to score in the second minute following a fine break by wing Jack Wilson but they were not to be denied. Ben Spencer touched down on eight minutes following another Wilson break, the scrum half following up and scoring despite a tackle from Lloyd Stapleton. Sam Stanley converted.
Stapleton brought Gloucestershire back into the match three minutes later with a fine try after Gloucestershire had exploited space out wide. Acting skipper Mike Wilcox hit the post with the conversion.
Hertfordshire then began to show the form that took them on to win the Bill Beaumont Cup last season as the backs began to rip holes in the Gloucestershire defence, with player-coach James Shanahan rounding off a move in which the backs ran hard and offloaded superbly to their support. Stanley added the extras, and then converted a similar try awarded to skipper Brett McNamee, who ploughed through a tackle to score on the half-hour, the try being awarded by the touch judge. Hertfordshire were 21-5 up and Gloucestershire were staring a heavy defeat in the face.
However, Gloucestershire turned over several Herts attacks and ran the ball themselves, with Spencer Sutherland taking a scoring pass from the excellent Sam Wilkes for a try on the stroke of half-time. Hertfordshire led 21-10 at the break and Gloucestershire were hanging on.
Three converted tries in the opening eight minutes of the second half put the result beyond doubt. Old Albanians wing Chris May beat four weak tackles to put Chris Lombaard in for the first, then McNamee burst out of a maul and sprinted in from 25 metres for the second, quickly followed by Wilson scoring a deserved try from an orthodox move from a scrum in midfield. Again the Gloucestershire defence was found wanting.
Dewi Scourfield capitalised on an interception from replacement wing Reuben Haile on 50 minutes to stem the tide, with Wilcox converting. Then Haile scored himself from a second interception on halfway for a bonus-point try for Gloucestershire, which brought the score to 42-22.
The powerful May finished off a fine bout of inter-passing for the next Hertfordshire try before Shanahan completed the scoring following another impressive run from May. Hertfordshire withstood a late surge from Gloucestershire for a comfortable and thoroughly deserved win.
Will Foden was outstanding for Gloucestershire and Sam Wilkes worked tirelessly. The visiting forwards did well in tight play but the Hertfordshire backs were in a different class.
Kent took on Cornwall, losing 17-23 and Gloucestershire must now defeat Kent at Cinderford next Sunday (May 19) to avoid relegation from the top tier of the County Championship.
Hertfordshire (Old Albanians unless stated otherwise): Tom Newton (Tring), Chris May, Chris Lombaard, Sam Stanley (Saracens), Jack Wilson (Saracens), James Shanahan, Ben Spencer (Saracens), Charlie Hughes, Jared Saunders (Saracens), Rob Schillaci, Ross Hamilton, Eoin Sherriff (Saracens), Brett McNamee (c), Ollie Cooper-Millar, Andy Daish. Replacements: Max Crumpton (Saracens), Jim Remfrey (Barnes), Craig South (Hertford), Tom Coleman (Bishop’s Stortford), Stefan Liebenberg, Matt Chambers, Jimmy Speirs.
Gloucestershire (Cinderford unless stated otherwise): Chris Hawkins, Spencer Sutherland (Esher), Barney Pascall (Richmond), Dewi Scourfield, Lloyd Stapleton, Mike Wilcox (c), Danny Pointon, Chris Bundy, Sam Wilkes (Moseley), Nick Selway, Dale Critchley, Ed King, Luke Allen, Will Foden, George Evans. Replacements: Joe Smart, Tom Bozzard, Ben Sparks, Dan Knapman (Old Centralians), Sam Arnott (Southend), Reuben Haile (Hartpury College), Tim Stevenson (Hartpury College).