Gloucestershire All Golds beaten but unbowed in defeat to Hemel Stags
Gloucestershire All Golds 18
Hemel Stags 36
THE Gloucestershire All Golds began their professional career today with a commendable defeat to Hemel Stags in their opening Northern Rail Cup pool A match, writes Chris Wilson.
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They led at the interval thanks to well-worked tries by Callum Mulkeen, Tim Bergin and Jordan Rice but were unable to extend their advantage in the second half as the Stags' experience and size wore them down.
An absorbing first half began with the Stags on top and ended with the All Golds on a roll having blasted over for two tries in four minutes to lead 16-12 at the break.
Chris Stevenson opened the scoring after 12 minutes, scambling over the line after a neat change of direction. Chris Melling then powered over on a good line from a penalty seven minutes later and with Barry-Jon Swindells converting both, the Stags looked to be in control at 12-0.
However, the All Golds' next possession brought a try to Mulkeen who raced in after Jordan Rice's wide pass outflanked the defence.
Bradley missed the goal and was off target from the other wing as Rice again provided the assist for Bergin to cross nine minutes later.
Given a glut of possession, the All Golds scored again. Bergin sent his winger Maxime Claustres away and he provided the scoring pass for Rice to go over for the All Golds third try.
Bradley goaled and then added a penalty on the halftime hooter to send Brad Hepi's men to the sheds in good heart.
Refreshed, the Stags came out and took the initiative forcing the All Golds onto the defensive and Joel Miranda scored after five minutes driving over from close range, however he blotted his copybook by being sent to the sinbin for a professional foul after Phil Cowburn had made an 80-metre break from Stevenson's attacking kick ten minutes later.
Bradley knocked over the goal to tie the scores but the All Golds could not build on that and the Stags steadily began to exert their influence.
Melling blasted through for his second try of the day after the All Golds coughed up possession in their own half. With Jimmy Gahan and Arron Small in the sin bin for fighting, Mostyn swan-dived over out wide with the All Golds short of numbers.
Stevenson's 40-20 then gained field position once more and the All Golds conceded a penalty for Swindells to put two scores between the sides.
The Stags kept grinding out their sets and comfortably kept the All Golds at arms' length as the home side lost a little direction and they added a final gloss to the scoreline as Forgham took a high kick close to his own line and raced the length of the field to score with Cowburn in forlorn chase.
There were plenty of reasons for optimism for the All Golds on their first appearance. They were in the contest until the final quarter when they seemed to lose their way. They didn't really get the rub of the green from the referee but showed enough to the supporters who braved the chilly early spring afternoon that they are in for an entertaining season.
ALL GOLDS: Phil Cowburn, James Gahan, Callum Mulkeen, Tim Bergin, Maxime Claustres, James Greene, Matt Bradley, Mike Stewart (Capt), Rory Sharratt, James Walter, Joe McClean, Richard Jones, Jordan Rice. Replacements: Sam Blaney, Marcus Brooker, Jamie Crowther, Tyla Hepi.
Scorers: Tries; Callum Mulkeen (23), Tim Bergin (32), Jordan Rice (36), Goals; Matt Bradley 3 from 5.
STAGS: Mike Forgham, Chris Melling, Arron Small, Barry-Jon Swindells, Harry Mostyn, Chris Stevenson, Chad Sharpe, Aidan Pritchard, Joel Miranda, James Howitt, Alex Ingerfield, Shane Grady, Jack Molloy. Replacements: Ian Keevil, Eddie M'Baraga, Mike Bishay, Wayne Kelly.
Scorers: Tries; Chris Stevenson (12), Chris Melling (19, 60), Joel Miranda (45), Harry Mostyn (67), Mike Forgham (77) , Goals; Barry-Jon Swindells 6 from 8.
GAMEBREAKER: Harry Mostyn's try midway through the second period gave the Stags a ten-point cusion and they controlled the match from then on
GAMESTAR: Chris Melling's class out wide shone through and his two tries were clinically taken
Man of the Match: All Golds – Jordan Rice; Stags – Chris Melling
Penalty Count: All Golds – 8, Stags – 1
Sin Bin: All Golds - James Gahan (65); Stags - Joel Miranda (57), Arron Small (65)Referee: Jamie Bloem (RFL Appointment)
Touch Judges: Richard Griffiths, Rob Gaskell
Fourth Official: Ian Curzon
Match Commissioner: Gerry Kershaw