- Gloucestershire secure quarter-final place by beating defending champions Berkshire
- Impressive performance reflected in score: Gloucestershire U20 56 Berkshire U20 3
Gloucestershire U20 56 Berkshire U20 3
Gloucestershire blew away the defending National U20 Champions in a highly-impressive ten-try demolition at Cinderford. The win sees Gloucestershire through as runners-up in their Pool and will travel to Cornwall in the quarter-finals.
Both sides sized each other up before Gloucestershire opened the scoring with a Jack Skelton try after 17 minutes. Although Gloucestershire were on top they were unable to add to their score and Joe Murphy kicked a penalty for Berkshire on the half hour to see the score 5-3. Gloucestershire eased further ahead when skipper Lance Randall scored a push-over try close to half-time. Skelton converted for a 12-3 interval lead.
The second half was all Gloucestershire. Five minutes after the restart No.8 Will Hodgetts crashed over for a third try then eight minutes later Luke Panting scored the bonus point try, which opened the floodgates. Ollie Young scored two minutes later then Dan Brooker and Jake Holcombe scored tries shortly afterwards. Gloucestershire’s goal kickers left their boots behind as Gloucestershire led 37-3 but six conversions were missed.
As the match drew to a close the electric Ed Sheldon raced in for another try, Ollie Locke converting, then Skelton scored his second try. With three minutes to go Hodgetts scored again to bring up the half-century. Locke converted for a surprisingly comfortable win.
Gloucestershire played with an intensity and dynamism which was only occasionally visible in the two previous games. Having gone into the match in danger of finishing bottom of the table Gloucestershire played confidently and both forwards and backs handled well in attack and were tight and communicated well in defence. Coach Mike Panoho made good use of the bench and the county showed there is considerable strength in depth.
Kent win the group but Gloucestershire’s victory consigned Berkshire not only to a winless season but potentially to relegation, a remarkable turnaround for the most impressive side of last season.
Gloucestershire travel to Camborne to face Cornwall on March 30 for a quarter-final, the winner of which will be at home in the semi-final against .
Gloucestershire: Jack Skelton (Weston-Super-Mare); Jacob Unwin (Hartpury College), Sam Hanks (Cinderford), Daniel Spencer-Tonks (Old Centralians), Ryan Woodhouse (Matson); Ollie Locke (Old Centralians), Sam Watkins (Cinderford); Dean Brooker (Ealing), Finlay Sinclair (Cinderford), Lyon Kent (Gordon League), Lance Randall (Cinderford) (c), Jake Holcombe (Dings Crusaders), Joe Dancer (Dings Crusaders), Max Woodward (Old Redcliffians), Will Hodgetts (Cinderford).
Replacements: Ryan Roach (Cleve), Luke Panting (Thornbury), Ewan Bulger (Hartpury College), Ben Charlton-Hibbert (Filton College), Ben Large (Drybrook), Ed Sheldon (Thornbury), Ollie Young (Cheltenham)
Berkshire: Ollie Mann (University of Reading); Joe Leadley (Thatcham), Ethan Wright (University of Reading), Dan Barnes (Chinnor), Alex Huntsman (Thatcham); Joe Murphy (Reading Abbey), Max Edmonton (University of Reading); Craig Parker (Henley College), Evan Whitson (University of Reading), Cameron Leigh (Reading), Nick Crandon (Redingensians), Finn Walsh (Newbury), Cody Eibig (Aldermaston), Max Cross (University of Reading), Will Eversfield (Thatcham) (c).
Replacements: George Dutton (Maidenhead), George Banks (University of Reading), Ian Willis (Maidenhead), Brett Pointing (University of Reading), Louis Basson (Maidenhead), Peter Allan (Newbury).