All Golds double up on Scorpions
South Wales Scorpions 36 – 38 University of Gloucestershire All Golds
Article written by James Gray, All Golds Media Intern
Photos provided by Lewis Mitchell, All Golds Photography Intern
Despite losing last time out, the University of Gloucestershire All Golds are an improving side under Scotland Head Coach Steve McCormack and they were hoping to continue in this vein when taking on the winless South Wales Scorpions.
This week both teams welcomed the return of former players, as the Scorpions were happy to see their former captain Neil Dallimore back at the Maesteg RFC and the All Golds brought back an old face in the form of Matthew Bradley, returning from the London Skolars, adding to a cluster of young exciting half backs for the Gloucestershire side.
On the back of watching the U19s claim a thrilling victory in the curtain raiser, there were three changes from the starting 13 that played Oldham for the All Golds, and it was the returning Phil Cowburn who opened the scoring after just six minutes. The ball travelled over towards the right wing, when Cowburn spotted the gap inside the winger and ran through to smartly finish in the corner.
However the visitors lead wouldn’t last long, as former All Gold Chris Vitalini seemed just to wander into space and casually get over the try-line to score. Vitalini scored in the same fixture last year, then with the visitors, and after Paul Emanuelli added the extras to put the home side in front.
Although disappointed to concede the try, the All Golds still looked very confident going forward and maintained sustained pressure on the Scorpions defence. The Welsh side just stopped a runaway try from Aidan Jenkins, and then moments later produced some real quality on the attack. With the confidence to try offload after offload, the home team kept coming forward and Greg Wilde was on the end of a wonderful bit of play, to extend their advantage.
Despite looking the better side and seemingly in control, the All Golds now found themselves over a score behind their opponents. But with increasing pressure it was only a matter of time before they scored again. Jason Muranka made the initial yards, before Casey Canterbury showed some stylish footwork and drew in the defenders, then sending the ball wide for Aidan Jenkins to score in the corner.
After putting the latest Scorpions try behind them, the All Golds were coming at the home team with some quality rugby. Again it was Muranka who made the run, this time managing to get an offload away to Cowburn before he flicked the ball to Ben White, who ran clear to score under the posts. The returning Matt Bradley’s kick sending the All Golds into half time with a clear but narrow 12-14 advantage.
Steve McCormack won’t have been pleased with his side’s immediate reaction after half time, as a simple chip kick from Emanuelli was challenged in the air by Jordan Sheridan, who got there before Danny Thomas, and ran under the sticks to put Scorpions back in the lead.
Although their reaction to the start of the second half wasn’t brilliant, you couldn’t argue with the All Golds reply to Scorpions latest score. Jack Francis showed some real power and then determination to reach out and place the ball over the line, and after Bradley’s conversion re-established the visitors’ advantage, with the score 18-20.
Once again in the lead, the All Golds started to show real confidence and extend a serious amount of pressure onto the Scorpions’ defence. Miles Fairbank, Scott Claridge and Thomas all came close, before forcing the goal line dropout. The dropout set up the chance for the away team to again attack the try-line, and after Joe McClean made the initial yards it was again Francis who powered through the tackles and over the line to score his second and put the All Golds eight points in front.
It had been a golden period for the Gloucestershire side, however the bottom club Scorpions wouldn’t give up still sensing opportunities. And after two penalties in less than a minute gave the home side a brilliant chance, they just managed to get over the line after Wilde latched onto Farrer’s grubber kick.
Wilde’s score certainly affected the All Golds, who seemed to go through a rather wobbly patch, struggling to put moves together with the same intensity as before and making one or two silly errors. However, with such experience in the squad, they can rely on those seasoned characters such as Craig Cook. Thomas’ grubber kick was met by the charging Cook who demonstrated real courage to throw himself at the ball and touch down over the line to score. Along with Cook’s try, Bradley’s conversion extended the All Golds advantage to 24-32.
Knowing one more score would probably be enough to secure victory, the All Golds again pressured the Scorpions’ defence and this time scored the try of the game. White’s kick was charged down, but prop James Walter grabbed the falling loose ball and cleverly stepped his way past a challenge before seemingly putting Canterbury in for the try, however the half back seemed to hold off on beating the full back just long enough for Cook to arrive again, and round off a brilliant move and seal all three points for the All Golds.
With only five minutes to play the home side still never gave up, despite now being 14 points adrift. But in front of their home fans they put a fine final flurry scoring two tries in the final minutes, both supplied by hooker Connor Farrer. His first came from a quick sneak under the visitors defence, and the second latching onto his own kick to run in and round off a solid performance for the South Wales Scorpions.
However, it was the All Golds who went back across the border with two victories, after celebrating a thrilling victory in the U19s fixture. The three points for the professional side can only spur on their improvement under Steve McCormack, before taking on York at the Prince of Wales Stadium next Sunday.
Danny Thomas reflected on a close win for the All Golds:
“We were really inconsistent in patches today, with about 15 minutes to go we really should’ve put them to bed. We were about 14 points up and we let them back into the game.
“Every time we get into a attacking position we have plenty of options and we always look like scoring; it’s just those little things, gaining that yardage and setting up those attacking positions.
Coach Steve McCormack, knows there’s still more to come from his side:
“Disappointed with the amount of points we conceded, but we got the win and that’s the most important thing. We have to give credit to South Wales really; they showed great enthusiasm and never gave in.
“If we play well we are capable of beating anybody, we’ve got seven points out of a possible nine, so we’re in a little bit of form, but we’ve got an awful lot of improvement to do.”
Man of the match:
South Wales Scorpions
|1. Jordan Sheridan4. Kyle Scrivens3. Jack Pring24. Matt Wilcox5. Chris Leyshon6. Paul Emanuelli7. Greg Wilde
23. Richard East
9. Connor Farrer
18. Harrison Elliot
11. Barrie Phillips
12. Phil Carleton
10. Chris Vitalini
13. Ashley Bateman
21. Martin Luckwell
22. Neil Dallimore
25. Scott Giles
|7. Danny Thomas2. Jarrod Ward3. Phil Cowburn4. Aidan Jenkins5. Scott Claridge6. Ben White9. Matt Bradley
18. James Walter
19. Craig Cook
10. Izaak Duffy
12. Miles Fairbank
11. Jason Muranka
13. Brendan Smith
14. Joe McClean
20. Casey Canterbury
16. Richard Jones
17. Jack Francis
Referee: Jamie Bloem
Touch Judges: Gareth Evans and Dean Bowmer