Beaten Foresters give cause for optimism
IF CINDERFORD show more of the defensive vigour they displayed in the first half against Blackheath, they will be a match for anyone in National One.
In the back-to-back home bonus-point wins previous to the Foresters' first defeat at Rectory Field since October 2010, Andy Deacon's men had built upwards from the basics.
The fan, or umbrella, defensive system had suffocated fliers Fylde and confrontational gain-line tenacity rebuffed gritty Tynedale to seal a Dockham Road double success.
At times in south east London, everything that was good about Cinderford's play once again came from their strong rearguard action.
Captain Will Foden was back to his bulldozing best, with one monster hit in particular winning a penalty on 19 minutes which fly-half Mark Davies could not convert.
The kick-chase aerial bombardment that Gloucester defence coach Paul Moriarty has instilled finally clicked into place perfectly thanks to an inspired performance from full-back Mike Wilcox.
It was Wilcox who sliced through on 12 minutes before chipping ahead for wing Lloyd Stapleton to dot down and Davies add the conversion.
Wilcox again scythed through ten minutes later before his pass was intercepted and cleared by Blackheath scrum-half Jack Walsh, but the five-metre lineout catch and drive carried Tom Bozzard over.
This time Davies converted, but yet again the lack of concentration at the restart reared its ugly head again and former Forester Rory Teague chipped away at the lead with a penalty.
A loose kick from Cinderford scrum-half Danny Pointon was then returned with interest by Blackheath full-back Geoff Griffiths, allowing centre Richard Windsor to dot down and Teague add the conversion on 37 minutes.
Davies deservedly sent his side into the break five points up following a huge 45-metre penalty right on the stroke of half-time.
Foden saved a certain try four minutes in when Blackheath were queuing up out wide and Cinderford were stretched, but the openside somehow won a penalty following great breakdown work.
Hopes of that acting as a catalyst were dashed when Walsh darted over from a ruck in Cinderford's 22 on 50 minutes and Teague added the conversion to nudge his side 17-15 ahead.
More pressure forced the visitors off their feet at a ruck and Teague's successful penalty kick sent his side five points clear four minutes later.
A good lineout move released Blackheath lock Gethin Davies on 64 minutes.
With the defence back-pedalling near their line, Cinderford replacement Jack Preece could not resist going in at the side and earned ten minutes in the sin bin.
More brave Foresters defence, including a seven-man scrum near their own line, looked to have kept Blackheath out.
Teague kicked a penalty to put Blackheath 23-15 in front with ten minutes to go.
But after performing so admirably, defence finally let Cinderford down when Blackheath wing Richard Lankhsear smashed his way to the line for the decisive score seven minutes later and Teague converted.
At 30-15, Andy Deacon's men nearly grabbed a losing bonus but missed out despite Preece crossing for a catch-and-drive lineout score at the death which Davies brilliantly converted.
BLACKHEATH: G Griffiths (D Dunne 74); R Lankhsear, S Moan, R Windsor, L Gibson; R Teague, J Walsh (T Chapman 77); S Legg, G O'Meara (L Covington, 74), D Brett; T Stradwick, G Davies; R Pike, D Allen, J Catt. Replacements:J Cleverly, J West.
CINDERFORD: M Wilcox; N Codlin, J Adams, D Scourfield (K Done 77), L Stapleton; M Davies, D Pointon; J Smart (C Bundy, 57), T Bozzard (J Preece, 59), N Selway; B West, E King (D Critchley, 70); L Allen, W Foden (R Langley, 57), G Evans.