ALL GOLDS 28 – 28 DEVON SHARKS
The All Golds preserved their unbeaten record but only thanks to a last-minute penalty from Ash Lewis. They were behind for most of the game and though they put themselves into a winning position midway through the second half, needed the late points to earn something from the game.
Throughout, they looked listless and uninspired with passes going to ground and penalties conceded while in possession.
If it were not for a six minute period in the first half when they recovered a 10-0 deficit and ten minutes at the start of the second half when they came from six points behind to lead 26-16, they would have surrendered their unbeaten record.
The Sharks were eager and, with stand-off Jack Carlisle running things, were dangerous every time they had possession in the All Golds’ half.
But for their indiscipline that saw them have three players sin-binned, they could perhaps have secured both points.
The All Golds came into the game having won their first two matches; the most recent of those being a 34-16 defeat of the Sharks in Devon. However, that was all consigned to the history books as, despite a good start given them by a neat break from Tom Gaffney, they found themselves behind after just six minutes.
Carlisle’s high kick was allowed to bounce by a hesitant defence and the Sharks regathered possession for Charlie Dore to drive over the line for an unconverted try.
After wasting a good scoring opportunity with a poor pass, the All Golds found themselves further behind after 15 minutes. Back-to-back penalties gave the Sharks good field position and Arron Graham ran a great line to slice through the defence and score close enough to the posts to make Wes Keywood’s conversion a formality.
The Sharks’ indiscipline got the better of them five minutes later after Lewis had scored directly from a tap penalty when Gary Mitchell was sinbinned for dissent.
He was still cooling his heels in the bin when good work from Gaffney and Luis Smith sent James Royle diving over the line in flamboyant fashion. Smith goaled from wide out to tie the scores at 10-10.
The Sharks were then briefly down to 11 men when Tom Close was shown a yellow card after a professional foul following a great run from Ed Tait.
The Sharks were back to a full complement when a penalty late in the first half seemed to have allowed the All Golds an easy exit from their 20-metre line but a poor kick that failed to find touch gave the Sharks one last opportunity before the break.
Another steepling kick from Carlisle was dropped by the All Golds’ rearguard and Carlisle powered over for the try from the handover. Graham’s goal saw the sides turn round with the Sharks deservedly leading 16-10.
Invigorated by the half-time break, the All Golds came out firing and two quick scores put them ahead for the first time in the game.
From the opening set of the half, a penalty gave the All Golds field position and Greg Hamilton sliced over for a try that went unconverted as Smith missed the kick.
Then came the try of the game. After the All Golds had survived some pressure on their line thanks to a penalty for obstruction, Tait broke through the Sharks defence near halfway and headed for the line.
The tall second row knew support was on its way and adjusted his speed accordingly with the Sharks’ last line backing off. As Smith arrived at his shoulder he dummied the full-back and accelerated away to score.
Lewis capped the score with the goal to give the All Golds a 20-16 lead.
Five minutes later, Brandon Lamb went over for a try immediately following the award of a penalty and in the aftermath, the Sharks’ Finn Keywood was shown a yellow card again for dissent.
The All Golds failed to build on their 26-16 lead and man advantage and as soon as the sides were numerically equal, the Sharks struck twice in quick succession to snatch back the advantage.
Good handling saw Wes Keywood cross out wide and Graham add the extras before the next set saw Keywood turn provider. After being sent through a hole in the All Golds’ line by Pete Bilham, he handed on to Josh Dore who raced to the posts, making Graham’s conversion a formality.
The Sharks sensed their first win of the season but both sides had chances to secure the win.
Mason Robbins ran out of pitch short of the line in one electrifying burst down the touchline before the Sharks knocked on at a play the ball on the home line.
However, in their desperation to hold out, the Sharks conceded one too many penalties and Lewis was able to bang over the equalising points with the last kick of the game.
Next week, the All Golds face a stern test of their unbeaten record as they host Valley Cougars at SGS. The Cougars are also unbeaten and have never lost to the All Golds. The game is the second of the day’s Anglo-Welsh clashes with the Golden Ferns, fresh from their win over the Cornish Rebels take on the Cardiff Demons. Kick-off on Saturday 3 July for that game is at 12noon, with the All Golds game at 2.30pm.
ALL GOLDS: Tom Gaffney; Mason Robbins, Brandon Lamb, Luke Kell, James Royle; Greg Hamilton, Luis Smith; Luke Panting, Jack Uren (Capt), Finlay Nuttall; Ed Tait, Ash Lewis; Mike Harrison; INTERCHANGE: Charlie Anstis, Kieran Harvey, Wes Long, Dan Roberts.
Tries: Lewis (19), Royle (25), Hamilton (41), Tait (47), Lamb (52)
Goals: Smith 1 from 3, Lewis 3 from 3.
SHARKS: Will Sanders; Tom Close, Arron Graham (Capt), Wes Keywood, Harry Emmett; Jack Carlisle, Joe Rider; Jon Ross, Josh Dore, Charlie Dore; Tom Worboys, Finn Keywood; Pete Bilham; INTERCHANGE: Reece Hutchings, Luke Hutchings, Gary Mitchell, Tom Phillips.
Tries: C. Dore (4), Graham (15), Carlisle (39), W. Keywood (63), J. Dore (66)
Goals: W Keywood 1 from 1, Graham 3 from 4
All Golds Man of the Match: Ed Tait
Scoring sequence: 0-4, 0-10, 4-10, 10-10, 10-16, (HT), 14-16, 20-16, 26-16, 26-22, 26-28, 28-28, (FT)
Penalty Count: 17-7
Referee: Malcolm Holmes
Image: Ed Tait heading for the tryline as the All Golds fought back from 16-10 behind in their draw with Devon Sharks (Image courtesy Lewis Mitchell Photography).