Cinderford United eventually overcame, to defeat, excellent opposition in the guise of Blackheath’s second string and in doing so achieved their second win, out of three, in the Zoo Sports Shield. The game was an excellent advert for second team rugby, at this level, and the standard of play, and physical commitment, throughout was of a very high standard. This was also matched by the performance of young referee Charlie Osborn who certainly played his part in this entertaining contest.
Winning the toss the United opted to play into the deceptively strong breeze. They began brightly with forwards and backs alike carrying the ball strongly. The return of wing Nevaro Codlin, from a summer groin operation, was an especially pleasing sight for home supporters. However, Blackheath were fierce and strong opponents and met most collisions with relish. Any ground for either side was hard fought but just before the twenty minute mark United second row Matt Lane burst through the visitors defence and showed excellent foot speed and skill to round the visiting full back to score in the clubhouse corner. Tom Law converted magnificently from the touchline. It did not take long for Blackheath to strike back as they took play deep into the United’s half. Play went right, up the middle and then left and with the United defeat stretched the visitor’s outstanding open-side crossed, and cantered under the posts, for a try which was converted by their captain and fly half to level the game. Just before half time Blackheath were awarded a penalty goal and this too was dispatched with aplomb, by their accomplished fly half, and the visitors led 10-7 at half time.
The third quarter was a nervous affair for the United. A litany of unforced handling errors continually negated any results from their tremendous work ethic and hampered any efforts to retake the lead. The introduction, at half time though, of Gloucester Academy flanker, Sam Underhill helped form a potent back row, with Rhys Luckwell and Mike Uren. Gradually the United began to gain ascendancy and their tireless efforts were rewarded in the last quarter. From just inside the visitors 22 a fine driving maul led to several, close range, pick and go’s and eventually pack leader Luckwell forged his way over. Law’s conversion attempt unluckily struck a post. The home side utilised their bench and every replacement played an effective part as the United turned the screw to try and finish their resolute opponents. Andy Uren, at scrum half and Law, at fly half, kicked intelligently and pressure remained on the visiting Londoners. Eventually with five minutes remaining the United’s best passage of play broke the Blackheath resistance. Full back Chris Hawkins crossed for a thrilling team score. Replacement centre Ollie Whiting converted and the home side celebrated a hard fought and hard earned win in which both sides deserved huge credit.
Cinderford United; Chris Hawkins, Henry Bird, James Butler (Ollie Whiting), Alan Bryan (Captain), Nevaro Codlin (James Price), Tom Law, Andy Uren, Michael Davies, Neil Cully (Luke Crunden), Jamie Baglin, Dan Fry (Will Hodgetts), Matt Lane (Angus Hodges), Will Hodgetts (Sam Underhill), Rhys Luckwell, Mike Uren;