Cinderford United produced a tremendous performance to beat the second team of Henley Hawks on their own ground in Oxfordshire. In doing so they achieved their first win in the London Zoo Division Shield this season. Conditions were perfect and the United overcame the handicap of no recognised second row forwards with flankers; debutant Jack Norris, 18 year old Matt Allcock and Will Hodgetts filling in with real attitude and commitment. Those qualities were reflected throughout the Cinderford side as with a bare eight forwards huge credit should go to the front row of Mike Davies, Dave Wheeler and young Jake Drinkwater who never took a backward step all afternoon.
Cinderford were quickly into their stride from the kick off and several surging runs from centre and Captain Alan Bryan put them on the front foot. Fly half James Moffat kicked the visitors into a three point lead as the under pressure hosts infringed. Henley did level with a penalty of their own on their first visit to the Cinderford twenty two. However, the United regrouped and the introduction of veteran scrum-half Clive Stuart-Smith, at flanker, proved a master stroke as together with 1st XV pedigree Roger Birkin and Marcus Brown the United back row and front five forwards dominated.
Moffat kicked a second penalty to regain the lead and just before half time the quick thinking United scrum half Alex Frame tapped a very kickable penalty and Moffat’s pass sent Bryan scorching in for a try in the left hand corner. Moffat’s superb conversion gave the United a ten point interval lead.
Henley’s best period was easily the third quarter and despite Cinderford continually turning ball over the home side still managed to keep the pressure on the United. Eventually the pressure told and Henley’s left wing scored an unconverted try in the same corner as Bryan had previously.
The response from the positive and spiky United side was emphatic as they dominated the final twenty minutes. With all eighteen players playing their part they continued to take the game to the home side and when needing to defend they did so with some text book and committed tackling. Storming runs from United backs Stefan Hawley, Harrison Yorke, Ollie Whiting and Jack Richards continually caused Henley discomfort. As Cinderford ran the home side off their feet the outstanding Hawley scored the United’s second try, with fifteen minutes remaining, and after left wing’s Yorke’s late electric dash the equally outstanding flanker Brown was on hand to secure a third touchdown. Moffat converted both to secure a notable and heartwarming United victory.
Cinderford United;, Stefan Hawley, Jack Richards, Ollie Whiting, Alan Bryan (Captain), Harrison Yorke, James Moffat, Alex Frame, Michael Davies, Dave Wheeler, Jake Drinkwater, Jack Norris, Matt Allcock, Will Hodgetts, Marcus Brown, Roger Birkin; Replacements (all 3 used continually on rotation); Clive Stuart-Smith, Jason Graham, James Price.