Herts beat Gloucestershire to start Bill Beaumont Cup campaign with a bang

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Hertfordshire opened their 2014 Bill Beaumont Cup campaign with an historic first win on Gloucestershire soil.

Hertfordshire got an early score and held the lead throughout the game, despite a strong fightback by Gloucestershire, to win by 30 points to 19 and gain a bonus point for scoring four tries.

Conditions were not easy on a very windy afternoon at Cinderford, but both sides endeavoured to play enterprising rugby.

A number of handling errors resulted on both sides but that did not detract from the quality of the game.

The inexperienced Hertfordshire pack did very well against their strong West Country counterparts and more than held their own in the scrums until the last quarter when the home side got on top.

The lines out were shaded by Gloucestershire, but in the loose the visitors gained the upper hand, winning many turnovers and the back row, led by skipper Billy Johnson, frequently made gained many yards.

The attacking flair of the Hertfordshire backs was frequently thwarted by the conditions, but they excelled in defence especially in midfield, where the strong Gloucestershire centres posed a constant threat.

With the strong wind at their backs Hertfordshire had the best of starts scoring a converted try before two minutes had gone.

Following the home kick off, Herts won the first of many turnovers and full-back Henry Robinson broke up field.

From a ruck on the Gloucs 22, Herts won the ball and Matt Chambers touched down, the try being converted by Josh Sharp.

Both sides tested each other out over the next 10 minutes and Gloucestershire gradually worked their way into the Herts half.

A break from their full back took play to the Herts 22 and quick ruck ball gave right wing Leo Fielding the chance to cross the line for an unconverted try.

Making use of the wind, Herts put pressure on the home defence and were rewarded with two Sharp penalties, so that with half hour gone they led 13-5.

Then with just over five minutes of the half left, Herts won a scrum on the halfway line, Stuart Smart made a break up the right wing and put Robinson over for a try which Sharp converted.

The half-time whistle soon followed, but the pundits in the stand doubted whether a 15-point lead would be sufficient.

Playing into wind did not appear to trouble Herts at all at the start of the second half.

A Torran Macdougall break from the back of the first scrum took play well into home territory, but the subsequent forward drive was held up over the line.

Within minutes, the Herts forwards drove over the line again and this time Macdougall grounded the ball, so Herts had extended their lead to 20 points after only four minutes of the half.

Another try could have followed after a good break by Nick Hankin but a pass went astray.

Gloucestershire soon responded, using the wind to gain ground and put Herts under pressure.

Two five-metre lines out followed in quick succession and, from the second, the ball was recycled to Fielding who both scored his second try and added the conversion.

Herts then kept the ball in hand to gain ground, one 30 metre Johnson break taking play well into home territory.

Then with almost 30 minutes of the half gone Herts extended their lead. Johnson made another break from broken play on the halfway line and, when he was tackled, he gave the ball the hooker Jack Singleton, who sprinted the last 22 metres to score.

For the last 10 minutes of the game Gloucestershire threw everything at Herts. They managed a try by centre Rob Winchle, which was converted by Fielding, but Herts still had an 11-point cushion. This was enough and Herts had soon earned their historic victory.