ALL GOLDS A 30 – 28 BATH GLADIATORS
Christopher Wilson at St Peter’s High School, Gloucester
A controversial last-minute try in the corner from Bath Gladiators’ Hugo Cole set up a touchline conversion attempt from Kieran Chester that would have given the visitors a share of the spoils against a wasteful All Golds side.
Chester missed the kick and Bath were left arguing that Solomon Farrer’s desperate last-ditch tackle should have been punished with at least a penalty try, if not an eight point try that would have given the visitors two shots at goal and possibly the chance to win the game.
However, the referee ruled that Cole had grounded the ball and that the tackle was fair, leaving the All Golds relieved that they had survived a game where they had led 20-0 after half an hour and then 30-18 with ten minutes to go.
The home side could have had no complaints had Chester’s kick gone over. In possession they had looked very good indeed. Their big runners like Tupou Hifo and Mike Addis making good yards upfield and good support play taking the ball quickly into Bath territory, setting up opportunities for strike plays.
However, too often they overplayed and lost possession cheaply when level heads could have brought a more positive end to their sets.
Under a hot sun, both sides had chances to score during a frenetic opening few minutes when the ball went to ground with alarming regularity.
First, Bath were held up over the line before squandering the field position two plays later and then a toe in touch saw Semeti Marautaki denied a sensational 60-metre try – the first of three disallowed tries for the All Golds in the game.
The first score finally came after 13 minutes. Will Baldwin’s forceful run set up good field position and Tom Webb did well to twist out of two or three tackles to score under the posts. Rhys Evans added the extras.
After the mid-half water break, the All Golds extended their lead. From a penalty close to the Bath line, Hifo blasted his way over. Evans missed the kick and was again off target with an easier-looking kick just three minutes later as the All Golds drove the restart back down the field and Baldwin sent Lasarusa Frazer over for try.
Evans made amends six minutes later as his break and offload to Farrer set up the position for Josh Llewelyn to scramble over after strong drives from Hifo and Kieran Harvey. Ash Lewis successfully took over the kicking duties to give the home side a 20-0 advantage.
Frazer then had a second score disallowed before the Gladiators got on the board as Danny Maddocks’ excellent offload sent Ben Thyer racing under the posts. Josh Frost added the extras.
Frost turned tryscorer just before the break, crashing over after the All Golds had endured a full set of six on their own line but conceded a penalty, allowing the Gladiators to continue the assault. This time Kieran Chester added the extra two to put the visitors right back in the game as half time approached.
There was a flurry of scoring as the second half opened with Chester adding a try and goal in the opening couple of minutes to cut the All Golds’ lead to a single score.
The All Golds responded well with back-to back tries from hooker Kieran Bevan.
First, he nipped over from dummy half on the goal-line before finishing Hifo’s superb break from the restart, outpacing a chasing defender from halfway to dive over.
Both sides then wasted possession as the game got scrappy before good work from Marcus Brown, Lewis, and Webb saw Charlie Anstis go over but the youngster was denied a debut try by some obstruction in the build-up.
The All Golds held on to their 30-18 lead into the final ten minutes of the game but they were unable to take advantage of the ten minute period that Bath were down to 12 men following a late tackle on Lewis.
Indeed, Bath looked the stronger side during that period and chipped away at the All Golds’ lead with a try from Chester who slipped through some unusually weak goal-line defence to touch down under the posts and add the extras himself.
With their tails up, the visitors pressed, and the All Golds lacked control in possession and field position to stem the tide.
It was no surprise, then, that they turned over possession close to their line and, with the final play of the game, Bath gave themselves a chance to gain their first point of the season – one that, on this showing at least, won’t be too long in arriving.
The All Golds, meanwhile face the daunting task of a trip to previously unbeaten West of England league leaders Reading Raiders, who will be smarting from a 62-24 mauling by Somerset Vikings this weekend.
They will need to be a lot more disciplined with the ball to earn any reward from the journey.
ALL GOLDS: Solomon Farrer; Josh Llewelyn, Will Baldwin, Napolioni Koro, Semiti Marautaki; Rhys Evans, Tom Webb; Mike Addis, Kieran Bevan, Hector Silva; Wes Long, Tupou Hifo; Ash Lewis (Capt); INTERCHANGE: Charlie Anstis, Manueli Tuisavatu, Marcus Brown, John Watson, James Royle, Lasarusa Frazer, Kieran Harvey.
Tries: Webb (13), Hifo (19), Frazer (22), Llewelyn (28), Bevan (45, 47)
Goals: Evans 1 from 3, Lewis 1 from 1, Webb 1 from 2.
GLADIATORS: Kieran Chester; Samuel Adey, Freddie Holmes, Jake Brooks, Tom Delaney; Rob Sully, Oli Wilkes; Brandon Ball, Miquel Tomas, George Frost; Mike Salter, Tom Culshaw; Josh Frost (Capt.); INTERCHANGE: Kieran Jones, Harvey Robinson, Ben Thyer, Jack Tanner, Danny Maddocks, Dan Jefferies, Hugo Cole.
Tries: Thyer (32), Frost (38), Chester (41, 70), Cole (79)
Goals: Frost 1 from 1, Chester 3 from 4
All Golds Man of the Match: Tupou Hifo
Scoring sequence: 6-0, 10-0, 14-0, 20-0, 20-6, 20-12, (HT), 20-18, 24-18, 30-18, 30-24, 30-28, (FT)
Penalty Count: 8-7
Referee: David Lancaster
Image: Kieran Bevan scores his second try to give the All Golds a 30-18 lead against Bath
Image courtesy of Lewis Mitchell Photography