ALL GOLDS 74 – 30 CHELTENHAM PHOENIX
Chris Wilson At St Peter’s School, Gloucester
The All Golds came out on top in a tough local derby to record a league double against their Cheltenham rivals at a sun-kissed St Peter’s.
It was the first double by a Gloucester side over their Cheltenham rivals since the Phoenix entered the league in 2013.
Once again scrum half Callum Merrett took the scoring honours with four tries in the first forty minutes and, though his goalkicking was not up to its usual standard, he still booted seven for a personal haul of 30 points, which took him past 100 for the season.
The Phoenix were certainly in no mood to go down to their rivals as they took the lead after six minutes and led twice more during a frenetic first half after which the All Golds led 30-18.
The impressive Ollie Wilton scored twice as the All Golds struggled to contain the hard-running centre but in between those scores, Merrett slipped through the defence to cross for his first try.
Hector Silva went over in the corner after Jack Uren kept the ball alive well before Merrett cut through for a second time to give the home side a 14-12 lead.
Despite having Jack Kerr sin-binned for backchat, Cheltenham took the lead again through Chris True but this lasted barely three minutes before Merrett completed his hat-trick to restore the All Golds’ advantage.
As the half drew to a close, the home side pressed and Ben Roche was inches away from touching down Merrett’s well-placed cross kick. However, Merrett’s next kick brought results as his bomb was decked by the Phoenix defence and the ball was transferred to Kieran Webb who ran in at the corner.
From the restart, Luke Stephens broke through the middle and sent Merrett to the posts for his fourth score of an eventful forty minutes.
Four minutes of almost constant pressure by the Phoenix at the start of the second period ended when Max Gallagher forced his way over, Sam Hughes’ goal cut the lead to just a converted try. But Hargreaves made a mess of the restart and swift hands along the line from the resulting scrum sent Brandon Lamb powering through to touch down.
Merrett then kicked wide to the unmarked Michael Holden as the All Golds extended their lead to three scores. The winger added a second score, breaking through the middle before burning the cover defence and touching down under the posts.
Ash Lewis converted both of these scores before Merrett guided the ball between the posts after Webb had finished off Connor Jones’ break.
There was a moment of controversy five minutes later as Stephens and Rob White were sin-binned following an altercation at the play the ball, the referee halting play as Jack Uren was racing to the posts following Lewis’ strong run up the middle.
Uren was not to be denied as he forced his way over immediately after the resumption in play as the All Golds took a stranglehold on the match.
Kieran White pulled a consolation score back for the visitors but the All Golds finished with three scores in the final ten minutes to seal another big home win in style.
Holden completed his hat-trick with a strong angled run before Silva powered his way over the line and then Webb scored his third after Jack Uren had done the spadework.
The All Golds’ final two games in the Pool are both away, against Forest Bulldogs next week and Swindon St George in a fortnight. This game could decide who tops the Pool and with that, the advantage of three home games in the Super Sixes stage that follows.
ALL GOLDS: Josh Llewelyn; Rhys James, Joe Uren, Kieran Webb, Michael Holden; Jack Uren, Callum Merrett; Mitchell Dent, Jacob Morris, Ash Lewis (Capt); Connor Jones, Dean Cooper; Brandon Lamb; INTERCHANGE: Luke Stephens, Ben Roche, Hector Silva, Charles Lichtenstein, Gareth Morris, Jordan Smith.
Tries; Merrett (8, 24, 30, 39), Silva (16, 77), Webb (38, 61, 79), Lamb (46), Holden (53, 58, 73), Jack Uren (64)
Goals: Merrett 7 from 12, Lewis 2 from 2
CHELTENHAM PHOENIX: Will Haly; Joe Hart, Nick Jones, George Sewell, Chris Davies; Fraser Andrews, Sam Hughes; Chris True, Sam Coles, Kieran White; Max Gallagher, James Redfearn; Ryan White; INTERCHANGE: Jack Kerr, Ollie Wilton, Rob White, Jack Daubney, Munro Third, Zack Taylor, Sam Hamman.
Tries; Wilton (5, 12), True (27), Gallagher (44), K. White (69)
Goals; Hughes 5 from 5
Scoring sequence: 0-6, 6-6, 6-12, 10-12, 14-12, 14-18, 20-18, 24-18, 30-18, (HT), 30-24, 34-24, 40-24, 46-24, 52-24, 58-24, 58-30, 62-30, 68-30, 74-30, (FT)
Referee: Kristoff Young