Three tries from wing George Bvuma saw the All Golds to a 24-18 win over the Jaguars in their opening game of the season.
It has been a long 20 months since the All Golds last took to the field in August 2019 and in that time the club has seen some significant changes on and off the field with the launching of a second team and a women’s team, a training and playing base agreed at the SGS WISE Campus in Bristol and off-field recruitment of some rugby league experience in the boardroom including Director of Rugby Development, at Super League club, Hull FC, Danny Wilson, as a non-executive director.
New head of rugby development, Simon Martin was on hand to see the first game of the new season with half of the All Golds’ 20-man squad being new to the club and many having not tasted rugby league in the flesh before.
The two teams were scheduled to meet during an abortive attempt to play matches last autumn but it wasn’t until months later, on an overcast afternoon punctuated by showers, they finally locked horns in what turned out to be an intense, physical battle in sometimes difficult conditions.
The All Golds had the edge in finishing ability scoring five tries to Worcester’s three despite being on the wrong end of a lop-sided penalty count and enjoying much less possession than their visitors as a consequence.
Fullback Darrion Ball was outstanding, laying on all bar one of his side’s tries and using his long kicking game to force the Jaguars deep into their own territory, while George Bvuma’s hat-trick was a fine example of deadly finishing.
The game started in bright sunshine and, after both sides had completed their opening sets, defences took over with some solid hits flying in from both sides. Territorially, the Jaguars had the better of the play, but it was the All Golds who opened the scoring after 14 minutes of attrition.
Winger Bvuma saw a gap close to the line and sneaked over to score, Ball adding the goal from wide out for a 6-0 lead.
Ball’s long kicking game pinned the visitors back as the All Golds largely controlled the middle period of the half. They were rewarded on the scoreboard as Ball’s lovely wide pass sent Bvuma in for his second try, the fullback adding a superb goal from the touchline to make the score 12-0.
The visitors countered well and finished the half strongly, dominating possession and field position and only some strong goal-line resistance from the home side kept their line intact at halftime.
The All Golds took the initiative straight from the resumption with Ball again the creator, this time his kick into the in-goal was touched down by Ross Hannaford for a debut try. This time Ball couldn’t add the extras.
Three minutes later, Ball again exposed the Jaguars’ right edge, drew enough defenders for Bvuma to take his inside pass and coast in untouched and see the All Golds out to a 20-0 lead.
Perhaps a little complacency set in as the Jaguars again had a period where they monopolised possession and finally made it count as former All Gold, Sean Roberts sneaked over from dummy half for a trademark score. Richard Carr added the extras, and two minutes later was lining up another conversion after he himself had supported a good forward drive to outpace the defence from halfway and go over under the posts.
With eight points between the sides, the game was in the balance but an error from the restart gave the All Golds a chance to hit back immediately and Ball was again the creator sending Tom Gaffney racing over from 20 metres out with another quality pass.
Ash Lewis hit a post with the conversion attempt and the Jaguars hit back immediately. Tom Rawley made good use of his size and speed to catch the All Golds’ defence all over the place and power his way over. Carr’s conversion set up a dramatic last ten minutes as the visitors pushed for a score to level matters and the All Golds looked to seal the win.
Lewis lost the ball over the line as he tried to force his way over before Kieran Harvey was held up and unable to ground the ball by desperate Jaguars defence.
Harvey then made a superb break up the middle but from the resulting good field position, Ball was off-target with a drop goal attempt that would have put two scores between the sides and sealed the win for the All Golds.
However, the Jaguars fluffed their last chance, losing possession early in the tackle count and the All Golds were on the attack when the whistle went to end a tough game played throughout in good spirits.
The All Golds second team travel to Somerset Vikings next week for what is sure to be another hard, physical encounter with the reigning West of England champions, while the Jaguars make a return journey to Gloucester, this time to face the University of Gloucestershire Old Boys who opened their season with a 30-24 win over the Vikings.
ALL GOLDS: Darrion Ball; Tom Gaffney, James Royle, Luke Kell, George Bvuma; Wayne Mulhern, Luis Smith; Mike Addis, Dieter Thomas, Ash Lewis; Luke Dilley, Kane Evans; Ross Hannaford; INTERCHANGE: Josh Llewelyn, Solomon Farrer, Manueli Tuisavatu, Marcus Brown, Dan Roberts, Jack Rowe, Kieran Harvey.
Tries: Bvuma (14, 24, 46), Hannaford (43), Gaffney (61)
Goals: Ball 2 from 4, Lewis 0 from 1.
JAGUARS: Ryan Alexander, Sam Buckthought, Richard Carr, Finlay Dalby, Leigh Griffin, Ellis Homer, Francis Kelly, Thomas Lawley, Bruce McLaren, Aron Middleton (Capt.), Jamie O’Donnell, Alex Paynter, Sean Roberts; INTERCHANGE: Robert Smith, Callum Spires, Todd Stephens, Torr Strange, Chevel Taylor, Matthew Wilkinson, Ben Rhodes.
Tries: Roberts (56), Carr (58), Rawley (72)
Goals: Carr 3 from 3
All Golds Man of the Match: Darrion Ball
Scoring sequence: 6-0, 12-0, (HT), 16-0, 20-0, 20-6, 20-12, 24-12, 24-18, (FT)
Penalty Count: 5-16
Referee: Rob Apsee (Wales)
Image: George Bvuma scored three tries to help the All Golds to a 24-18 win over Worcester Jaguars (Image courtesy Lewis Mitchell)