No happy return home for Cheltenham
CHELTENHAM 21 NEWBURY BLUES 22
CHELTENHAM remain winless after they lost to Newbury Blues in a hard-fought game – their first at home this season after six unsuccessful away trips, writes Derek Clifford.
Cheltenham had been forced to play away fixtures while the Prince of Wales Stadium was refurbished,
A good-sized crowd turned out for their return home, including former players Malcolm Preedy, Derrick Morgan, Dave Kersey and Laurie Beck.
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Newbury Blues opened the scoring when Toby Thorne waltzed past a flat-footed home defence for a try, Mugridge adding the conversion.
From the restart Cheltenham secured decent ball and after good combination between both forwards and backs captain Tom Lait crossed for a good try.
Last season's top points scorer Josh Herbert added the extras, but sadly for the home supporters the parity was short-lived as Newbury winger Jamie Futcher ghosted in for an unconverted try and a 12-7 lead.
After 24 minutes Cheltenham gained a man advantage when Newbury's Gavin Price was shown a yellow card for persistent offside.
Cheltenham debutant James Hillier grabbed a try and Herbert added the conversion to make it 14-12 for Cheltenham at half-time.
The second half started in a torrential downpour, but Cheltenham made light of the conditions with hooker John Bryant touching down for a try after good work by Max Hough and Layne Manley.
Herbert slotted the conversion to put Cheltenham 21-12 in front.
As the rain continued to pour, Newbury reduced the arrears to 21-15 with a Mugridge penalty.
Newbury regained the lead when number eight Pete Jones crashed over from a five-metre scrum and Mugridge added the conversion to make it 22-12.
Cheltenham: Seymour, Bryant, Goatcher, Milne, Hillier, Tuck, Clifford, Lait, Hill, Clements, M Hough, B Hough, Manley, Morris, Herbert. Replacements: Saunders, Athey, J Meadows.
Newbury: Hicks, Love, Thomas, Taylor, Erskine, Crawford, Price, Jones, Thorne, Mugridge, Fletcher, Spence, Simmonds, Martin, D Jones. Replacements: Hawkins, Drysdale, Czerpak.
Referee: Ben Chadwick (Devon Society)