Heartbreak as All Golds end season with wooden spoon
GLOUCESTERSHIRE ALL GOLDS 34 GATESHEAD THUNDER 36
A LATE try from Benn Hardcastle denied the University of Gloucestershire All Golds their first home league win of the season in heartbreaking fashion in the battle of the basement sides.
The game built to an enthralling climax as the sides slugged it out to avoid the wooden spoon and eventually, Gateshead's greater composure in the final few mad minutes earned them the win.
Surprisingly, there was not the urgency about the All Golds' play that their draw with Oldham should have given them.
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But once they roused themselves, the All Golds fought back from an 18-0 deficit for the second week running but could not hold on at the death.
After 15 minutes of thrust and parry, Hardcastle gave Thunder the lead with a penalty for holding down. The All Golds found themselves on the end of a lopsided penalty count and, from the surfeit of territory and possession they received, Thunder scored the first try. Paul Stamp's show and go opened the gap and he raced over in the corner Hardcastle adding a good goal.
Chris Heil then scored a thrilling 60-metre try straight from a scrum before collecting Hardcastle's high kick to the corner and offloading to Callum Cockburn who coasted over for an 18-0 lead after half an hour.
Finally, the All Golds kicked into action. Good yards from a 20-metre restart and a penalty on the last tackle earned field position for Pat Smith to twist over from acting halfback.
Smith repeated the trick moments later as a double penalty carried the All Golds downfield and Smith forced the ball down despite the attentions of three defenders. Bradley was unable to convert.
They looked to continue the momentum after the break and pressed hard, Steve Parry losing the ball over the line before the hooker split the defence and found Phil Cowburn on his shoulder for the try goaled by Bradley.
Moments later, Parry again burst through, scrambling over himself for a converted try.
Then two tries in four minutes took Thunder into the lead. The first came when the Hardcastle brothers combined with Benn feeding Luke who scampered to the posts. Then Nick Johnson dived in at the corner after some enterprising handling.
As the match built to a climax, the All Golds hit back, Pat Evans blasting through a gap to score. Five minute later, Curtis Cunningham raced away to score a fine try. Bradley converted both tries to edge the All Golds four points in front.
But the home side's hopes of a home win were dashed, Hardcastle throwing a huge dummy to wrongfoot the entire defence and coast over by the posts. He added the goal and though the All Golds found touch from the restart and launched one last desperate attack, Thunder held on to consign their hosts to the wooden spoon in their debut season.
ALL GOLDS: P Cowburn; Maxime Claustres, N Morrison, T Bergin (Capt.), C Cunningham; Mark Barlow, M Bradley; L Kelley, S Parry, THepi; J Rice, R Jones; B Hepi. REPS: P Smith, P Evans, C Vitalini, M Venn.
THUNDER: LHardcastle; N Johnson, J Blades, C Heil, T Capper; P Stamp, B Hardcastle; S Welton, R Hough, L Fewlass; C Cockburn, G Griffin; J Payne (Capt.). REPS: J Nielson, A Ruff, BKrebs, J Stoker.
Referee: Scott Mikalauskas (RFL Appointment)