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Loan watch: Clifton edge out Hawks, Dings beaten at the death

Fourteen Bears players were in dual-registration action over the weekend, with another victory for Clifton, a dramatic defeat for Dings and a last-gasp draw for Hartpury.

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Photos: Clifton RFC

National Two South
Clifton 21-13 Henley Hawks

Clifton, featuring Bears quartet Charlie Powell, Tomas Gwilliam, Aaron Thompson and Harry Ascherl, extended their winning sequence to nine games following a strong second half performance in a keenly contested contest.

The Hawks proved dogged opponents and had their moments in an encounter punctuated with mistakes and penalties given away by both sides.

The visitors had the better of the early exchanges and dominated some of the tight play. They struck first when hooker Tom Emery went over from a strong forwards surge with fly half Monty Bradbury converting. A high tackle gave Bradbury an opportunity to kick a penalty and open up a ten point lead.

A penalty from a yellow card for Henley saw Clifton kick to the corner with influential prop Alex Giltrow being on the end of a catch a drive with Luke Cozens adding the extras to reduce the deficit before half time.

The second half became scrappy and error ridden but Clifton became more determined after Bradbury had increased the Hawks lead with another penalty.

Scrum Half Mitch Spencer kept Clifton on the front foot and a quickly taken penalty saw powerful number eight Brad Talbot cross with Cozens again converting. With Clifton now leading a strong run by Bristol Bears centre Charlie Powell soon presented the Talbot-Cozens partnership with the chance to repeat the earlier score line

While not Clifton’s best performance in what became a scrappy match it was their self belief and winning habit that saw them home and leading the table against a team that never gave up and could still feature in the promotion race.


Dings suffer late heartbreak on the road

Photos: John White/Dings Crusaders

National Two South

Bury St Edmunds 20-19 Dings Crusaders

Tom Wilstead, Harry Rowson, Andrew Turner, Ashley Challenger and George Kloska all featured for Dings, who came agonisingly close ending a four game losing run at Haberden, but in the end had to settle for a losing bonus-point as Bury St Edmunds converted a 79th minute penalty to secure a one-point victory.

The scoreline could have been a lot different had the visitors not made so many unforced errors in the opening quarter. Crusaders did get their act together as the first-half wore on, but Bury's defence was equal to the task, especially just before the break when they managed to keep the visitors out following a multi phase onslaught to their try line.

A high tackle on fly-half T.J. Wilstead resulted in centre Tom Price opening the scoring on six-minutes with a 40-metre penalty to give his team a 3-0 lead. Bury hit back, though, thanks to a well-taken try in the corner from wing Will Affleck. Chris Reed converted from the touchline to nudge Bury into a 7-3 lead on 19-minutes. More Bury pressure resulted in prop Brad Cooper crashing over on the half-hour mark. Reed added the extras from straight in front to make it 14-3.

In the closing stages of the first-half, Crusaders really began to find their rhythm and laid siege to the home sides' line. But credit to the hosts, who tackled superbly to prevent the visitors crossing the whitewash. Dings did have the final say of the half, though, with Price slotting a regulation three-pointer from in front of the sticks to make it 14-6 at the turnaround.

Dings enjoyed the lion's share of possession and territory after the break and continued to chip away at Bury's lead with another Price penalty. And things really became interesting when replacement scrum-half Tom Knight burrowed over from close range off the back of a driving line-out to level the scores. Price landed the touchline conversion attempt to give the visitors a 16-14 advantage as the clock ticked down.

Bury, as expected, wouldn't lie down, though, and retook the lead with a penalty from Reed to make it 17-16. Dings appeared to have snatched the spoils after Price slotted his fifth successful shot at goal to maintain his 100 percent kicking record for the afternoon. But the visitors were unable to hold on and conceded a five-metre scrum penalty in the 79th minutes. Reed duly booted it over to clinch the dramatic late victory for Bury.

Elsewhere, Dings Knights romped to a 96-0 win over Old Richians and Dings Warriors won 38-12 against Ashley Down ll.

Scorers:
Bury tries: Affleck, Cooper. Conversions: Reed (2). Penalties: Reed (2).
Dings try: Knight. Conversion: Price (1). Penalties: Price (4).

Dings Crusaders: 15 Luke Arscott; 14 Tommy Foot, 13 Matty Smith, 12 Tom Price, 11 Harry Rowson, 10 T.J. Wilstead, 9 Waylon Gasson; 1 Ashley Challenger, 2 Tom Anderson, 3 Nick English, 4 Olly Bilton, 5 Danny Hodge, 6 Buster Lawrence, 7 Lewis Beer, 8 Jake Holcombe.
Replacements: 16 George Kloska, 17 Drew Turner, 18 Josh Stace, 19 Tom Knight, 20 Hugo Harbinson.


Hartpury earn last-gasp draw

Photos: LNC Images

GKIPA Championship

Hartpury 31-31 London Scottish

A Hartpury side including Nathan Hughes, James Dun, Mitch Eadie and Deago Bailey needed a last-gasp try from full-back George Simpson to rescue a draw in a game which the visitors – propping up the table for all of the campaign – could, and probably should, have won.

James Williams’ magnificent touchline conversion, echoing a kick that so nearly brought an epic win at Coventry in the previous week, tied up the scores at 31-31, the sides walking away with three league points apiece.

An early free kick was tapped and strongly carried by Oli Robinson before back-row colleague, Mitch Eadie, was on hand to collect his first Hartpury try, in the opening minute.

Fears grew for Scottish when, after sustained, high-tempo Hartpury pressure, the home team were in again. Hughes and Robinson combined well down the left flank before scrum-half Toby Venner darted in for his fifth try in five games.  Williams converted both to make it 14-0 with 10 minutes played.

Things began to unravel for the hosts when they lost loose-head Totti Benz-Salomon shortly afterwards and, despite continuing to press, became untidy in possession.

Despite a difficult season, Scottish have always maintained an effective scrum and the tide began to turn when they won a penalty – the first of many – at the quarter-way mark.  It allowed their first serious incursion into Hartpury territory but, more importantly, signalled a notable shift in momentum.

Strong at the set-piece and drive, they dominated the remainder of the half and had their reward when replacement back, Sam Hanks, was put into the corner by scrum-half Dan Nutton.  Harry Shepherd kicked well to halve the deficit and, before half-time, Hartpury lost Eadie to a yellow card as the Exiles pressed again.

The second period started as the first had finished until, with the hosts just restored to 15, Cam King scored from close range to level things up, after some strong, physical running from the Scottish backs.

With 25 minutes to play Hartpury flickered back into life when an effective line-out drive, gained after aggressive pressure on the Scottish exit, produced a debut score for the admirable Hughes, playing well in an unfamiliar cause and looking head and shoulders above those around him.

The game took another turn minutes later when an injury to replacement home loose-head, Ciaran Knight, resulted in uncontested scrums for the remainder of the match.  Ironically, this deprived the Scots of a major weapon, but it was a handicap that they were to shrug off.

A Williams penalty extended the Hartpury lead to 10 points before the Exiles finally took the game by the scruff of the neck.

Beware the old boy.  Prop Alex Gibson was a highly-regarded student player at Hartpury – winning three BUCS Super Rugby national titles and being rewarded with his first semi-pro contract – before heading off for pastures new in 2020.

Now at Scottish – among a large former Hartpury contingent – the second half replacement, freed from energy-sapping work at scrum-time, decided to run around a lot and his close range tries, both improved by Shepherd, in the 67th and 71st minutes, edged the visitors in front.

A Shepherd penalty with less than five minutes to go made it a 7-point game and Hartpury were staring down the barrel of an unexpected defeat.

Launching a final attack, they won a penalty as Scots failed to release and opted for the ‘no pressure’ scrum with a minute to play.

Hughes broke strongly from the base to leave Simpson with a simple task, before Williams’ final high-point.


Power scores first Weston try

Photo: Weston Rugby/Andrew Collins

Tribute South West Premier
Weston-super-Mare 31-15 Camborne

Dylan Power's Weston-super-Mare secured their fourth victory on the trot with this bonus-point win over their hard-working opponents from Cornwall, Camborne, who gave their hosts a stern test throughout.

The Seasiders started slowly, and although the game was pointless for the first twenty minutes, Weston had chances, notably when a fine break by flanker Jacob Cox was carried on by centre Cameron Maslen. On another occasion full-back, Chris Young made a great run up the touchline only for the play to break down.

Camborne took the lead when following a catch and drive, the ball was spun wide to the right for Harry Larkins to cross in the twenty-first minute. The lead didn't last long as two minutes later, Maslen combined with his centre partner Dylan Power.

This gave space for fly-half James Mackay to produce a superb grubber kick which left-wing Joe Burgess gathered to even the scores. Weston took the lead after scrum-half Jack Press made a break before offloading to hooker Gary Carpenter who put Burgess away.

The winger cut inside to go over near the posts. Mackay added the extras. Camborne responded, and it was only excellent defence, notably from Cox and Woodland, that kept the visitors at bay until half time.

The second half was again nip and tuck with captain Tom Sugg being held up over the line about 10 minutes in, but Weston eventually increased their lead when a penalty followed by a yellow card for Camborne hooker Jon Drew.

This led to Weston's No.8 Ben Tothill crossing from a pushover try and Mackay again converting. Weston then achieved the bonus point when Maslen cut a fine line to cross near the sticks making Mackay's conversion a relatively easy one.

Camborne reduced the hosts lead when their excellent flanker Jordan Nichol went over, but Weston scored again when the excellent Cox was on hand to benefit from Woodland's steal at a scrum.

Larkins scored again for the Cornishmen near the end, but in a flat but gutsy display, Weston had the answers to win the game relatively comfortably to maintain their fourth place in the Tribute South West Premier.

Weston-super-Mare scorers – _tries: Joe Burgess (2), Callum Maslen, Ben Tothill, Jacob Cox; cons: James Mackay (3)

Camborne scorers – _tries: Harry Larkins (2), Jordan Nicholls; yellow card: Jon Drew (57 min)

Referee: Tom Evans-Jones (South West Group)


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