ALL GOLDS 62 – 30 SOMERSET VIKINGS
Chris Wilson At St Peter’s School, Gloucester
IMAGE: Jack Uren escapes the Vikings defence (courtesy Lewis Mitchell photography)
The All Golds ensured home advantage in the play-offs with a hard-fought win over Somerset Vikings at St Peter’s. Their 13-try, 32-point victory masked a disjointed performance mixing devastating attack with poor defence and handling errors aplenty.
The Vikings profited, scoring inside the first minute and their key player, former Oxford RL outside back Marcus Brooker, scored four of their six tries. They threatened throughout and did well to hit back after the All Golds’ second half blitz to post back-to-back tries of their own ensuring the home side could not take things easy.
New signings for the All Golds, Sean Roberts at hooker and Patrick Crummay in the pack, came off the bench to good effect while Aseri Lewasaru added power and pace to the All Golds’ go-forward and deserved his two tries late in the first half.
Had the normally accurate Callum Merrett brought his kicking boots, the score would have been much heavier, as he missed five of his ten attempts at goal but his two tries brought him to 16 for the season.
The game started badly for the home side who lost possession on the second tackle and allowed Doug Caddick to stroll through to score. Dan Hinton missed the relatively simple kick as did Merrett when he tried to add the extras to his neat chip and regather three minutes later.
Jake Morris gave the All Golds the lead after 13 minutes, crabbing across the line before slipping through the gap that appeared but Brooker pulled a try back following confusion caused by Hinton’s kick.
Merrett’s lovely inside ball sent Brandon Lamb over for a beautifully crafted try but the Vikings hit back through Hinton who took Caddick’s offload to score.
Just before the interval Aseri Lewasaru crossed twice in three minutes, the first from Merrett’s pass, which did look marginally forward and the second after the Vikings had conceded a goal-line dropout and the big prop crashed over under the bar.
With an interval lead of just 28-12, the All Golds were expecting a battle in the second period as the Vikings had shown plenty of determination and resolve and after some soul-searching in the halftime huddle, they came out firing.
Four tries in the opening eight minutes of the second period changed the game and the home side were able to weather a brief storm before sealing the points.
The blitz began after the All Golds found touch with the restart and Rhys James scored out wide straight from the resulting scrum.
On their next set, the home side scored again, Michael Holden cutting back against the grain to go over by the posts.
Dean Cooper scored next reacting quickest to a loose ball before Merrett rounded the defence on the outside from the restart and raced away to the posts for a spectacular score.
Suddenly finding themselves 34 points down, the Vikings hit back as Brooker had the strength to force his way over twice in quick succession. Hinton’s goals put a dent in that deficit but Jack Uren shrugged off tacklers to touch down for a score that settled the All Golds.
With Cooper in the sin-bin for the home side, the Vikings made the most of their man advantage and Brooker crashed over for his fourth try of the day.
The home side were back at full strength when they finished the game with a three-try salvo. Lamb did well to collect and touch down a high pass after Ash Lewis had rampaged through the middle of the Vikings defence.
Then, the All Golds forced a goal-line dropout with some strong defence and Uren crossed for his second try of the match. Five minutes later, Kieran Webb finished the scoring taking Lewasaru’s brilliant offload to race to the line, confirming the home side’s semi final berth.
Next week’s game with Swindon St George is a shootout for first place and a more favourable semi final draw.
A win for the All Golds will see them finish top but a Swindon win by 63 points or more would see them in pole position to successfully defend their crown.
ALL GOLDS: Josh Llewelyn; Tom Gaffney, Aedan Coleman, Sam Hodge, Michael Holden; Jack Uren, Callum Merrett; Mitchell Dent, Jacob Morris, Hector Silva; Ryan Tanner, Ash Lewis (Capt); Dean Cooper; INTERCHANGE: Sean Roberts, Rhys James, Kieran Webb, Brandon Lamb, Josh Stafford-Smith, Patrick Crummay, Aseri Lewasaru.
Tries; Merrett (4, 48), Morris (13), Lamb (21, 66), Lewasaru (33, 37), James (41), Holden (44), Cooper (46), Uren (56, 71), Webb (74)
Goals: Merrett 5 from 10, Coleman 0 from 1, Holden 0 from 1, Dent 0 from 1
VIKINGS: Robbie Woodward; Jack Bravery, Harry Brooker, George Prewitt, Cam Hellier; Dan Hinton, Josh Durran (Capt); Jack Monk, Doug Caddick, Bob Blainey; Mason Ball, Regan Walker; Marcus Brooker; INTERCHANGE: Taddy Dewhurst, Callum Warren, Ed Tye, Brad Evans, Dwayne West, Martin Walker, Connor Caddick.
Tries; D. Caddick (1), M. Brooker (18, 51, 53, 62), Hinton (25)
Goals; Hinton 3 from 6
Scoring sequence: 0-4, 4-4, 10-4, 10-8, 16-8, 16-12, 22-12, 28-12, (HT), 32-12, 36-12, 40-12, 46-12, 46-18, 46-24, 50-24, 50-30, 54-30, 58-30, 62-30, (FT)
Referee: Malcolm Holmes
All Golds remaining Super Fives Fixtures
Rd 5 – 28 July: Swindon St George (A)
4 August: Semi Finals (H)
11 August: West of England Grand Final (venue tba)