Stuart-Smith pounces late as Cinderford beat Hartpury
FORMER Hartpury man Clive Stuart-Smith grabbed the winner for Cinderford as the Foresters edged out their Gloucestershire rivals in a scrappy local derby.
National Division Two South outfit Hartpury created no shortage of opportunities and led for an hour of a match consisting of four 20-minute quarters, which were fiercely contested despite the game's official status a pre-season friendly.
But their National Division One opponents kept within touching distance and ground the young hosts down in the scrum, yielding a penalty try and providing the platform for Stuart-Smith to dart over late on.
After an even opening 10 minutes, Hartpury opened the scoring through exciting winger Cameron Roberts, who latched on to Seb Rodwell's floated pass to touch down in a corner.
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In an unusual incident, Craig Jackson placed the ball back on the kicking tee and landed the conversion after it had fallen in his run-up, only for referee Phil Watters to disallow the full-back's effort as Cinderford had already begun their charge and the goal was not a drop-kick.
Hartpury remained ahead at the first interval and extended their lead seven minutes into the second period, notching up the phases in the visitors' 22 before slick hands from hooker Lewis Grinsell set centre George Boulton free.
Cinderford were resilient, however, and quickly camped in Hartpury territory, gaining a succession of penalties and elective five-metre scrums.
The home pack repelled the onslaught temporarily, but referee Watters eventually lost patience and awarded a try near the posts, converted by Tommy Law.
With wholesale changes being implemented, neither team could fully assert themselves in the third quarter and the score remained delicately poised at 10-7 heading into the final period.
And it was Cinderford who seized the initiative, dominating possession and territory courtesy of some bullish carries up front, with another close-range scrum allowing half-back Stuart-Smith to sneak over on the blindside 10 minutes from time and settle the tie.