- Gloucestershire secure Division 1 status
- Side avoid relegation for second successive season
Photo: RFU Archive
Gloucestershire 36 Kent 20
Gloucestershire retained their status as a top tier county in the Bill Beaumont Cup Division 1 South with a comfortable win over Kent at Cinderford. In the battle to avoid relegation it is Kent who will be playing in Division 2 next season.
Kent began the better of the two sides and after an early penalty miss outside half Joe Simpson put the visitors 3-0 ahead with his second attempt. They looked to extend their lead but good Gloucestershire tackling kept them out.
Gloucestershire came more into the game and by the mid-point in the first half had taken control, but some poor passing and good defence kept the Kent line intact. Gloucestershire increased the pressure but squandered three glorious chances in quick succession when Charlie Daniell burst clear but was unable to find support with the line begging, then a George Evans pass went to ground a metre out and Sam Wilkes was also denied a score close to the Kent line. Eventually scrum half Sam Arnott opened Gloucestershire’s account, burrowing through a maul to place the ball firmly on the Kent line for a try. Mike Wilcox converted for a 7-3 lead.
From the restart Gloucestershire made a hash of trying to run out of defence, lost possession and Simpson raced through a yawning gap in the Gloucestershire defence to put flanker James Lindfield in for the try. Simpson converted, but the lead was short-lived as centre George Boulton capitalised on a Nev Codlin break for a try. Wilcox converted to give Gloucestershire a 14-10 half-time lead.
Codlin scored the try of the match four minutes into the second half. The Cinderford fullback exploited space down the blindside of a maul and cut inside and outside three players to race away for a magnificent try. Wilcox converted for a 21-10 lead. Simpson reduced the deficit with a penalty before Spencer Sutherland exchanged passes with fellow wing Lloyd Stapleton for another fine try. It secured a bonus point, which in a winner-takes-all match was an irrelevance. Wilcox hit the post with his conversion but added a penalty before replacement prop Jimmy Green crashed over for a late consolation try for Kent after the visiting forwards drove over following a series of rucks and mauls close to the Gloucestershire line. The conversion brought Kent back within two scores with four minutes remaining at 29-20.
But Gloucestershire had the final word with a try from Stapleton in the last move of the match, the Cinderford wing finishing off good passing with a flourish. Wilcox converted and Gloucestershire had avoided relegation for the second successive season.
The game was error-strewn with handling and passing mistakes from both sides but it also featured some excellent tries, with the silky-running Nev Codlin the standout player.
Gloucestershire: Nevaro Codlin (Cinderford), Spencer Sutherland (Esher), George Boulton (Hartpury), Dewi Scourfield (Cinderford), Lloyd Stapleton (Cinderford), Mike Wilcox (Cinderford) (c), Sam Arnott (Southend), Chris Bundy (Cinderford), Sam Wilkes (Moseley), Nick Selway (Cinderford), Charlie Daniell (Lydney), Ed King (Cinderford), Joe Joyce (Bristol/Dings Crusaders), Will Foden (Cinderford), George Evans (Cinderford)
Replacements: Joe Smart (Cinderford), Tom Bozzard (Cinderford), Ben Sparks (Cinderford), Luke Allen (Cinderford), Dan Knapman (Old Centralians), Danny Pointon (Cinderford), Reuben Haile (Hartpury)
Kent: Alex Gallagher (Old Colfeians), Ben Summers (Loughborough Univ.), Toby May (Westcombe Park), Dave Bonner (Blackheath), Richard Lankshear (Blackheath), Joe Simpson (Westcombe Park), John Hosken (Old Elthamians), James Cleverley (Blackheath), Joe Bonner (Blackheath), Terry Read (Charlton Park), Tom Stradwick (Blackheath) (c), Ally Vanner (Old Elthamians), Hamish Barton (Westcombe Park), James Lindfield (unattached), James Catt (Blackheath)
Replacements: Harry Fry (Westcombe Park), Ben McKinnell (Sheppey), Jimmy Green (Canterbury), Ben Johnson (Medway), James Munton (Blackheath), James Curr (Beckenham)