A high quality Zoo Shield fixture ended with a fine victory for the young Cinderford side following a purple patch midway through the second half. Conditions were excellent for rugby in Richmond, London and the early kick off (to counter international traffic) did not deter either side as the game began at a frenetic pace.
James Moffat, in an unfamiliar full back role, kicked an early penalty goal for the United and the visitors attacked at will in the first ten minutes. Two try scoring opportunities were badly squandered as white line fever reared its head and scoring passes were wasted. Centre Ben Penfold was forced from the field with a strained MCL knee injury and the United re jig saw Alex Jackson return to his more familiar inside centre role and young Terence Babarinsa take his place on the wing.
The Highlanders took advantage of the United’s wastefulness and scored the first try, on twenty five minutes, as strong running saw them burst through to touchdown by the Cinderford posts. The conversion was a formality but the home side’s lead lasted only a few minutes as a crunching Jackson tackle close to the Highlanders twenty two metre line led to a spilled ball and United wing Harrison Yorke scooped the ball up to race home. Moffat converted for a three point lead. It was the Highlanders turn to respond and from a ten metre line out the young United forwards were caught napping as the home caught and set up a drive that wound its way inexorably to the try line for a second try for the home side. The conversion was missed but the Highlanders led by two points. United second row Dale Lemon was prominent in receiving and attacking kick offs and he won the resultant kick off and two passes later United fly half Angus Bowyer kicked a neat drop goal to give the United a one point interval lead.
The second half initially saw the Highlanders on the attack, as the United coped with the sinbinning of flanker Matt Allcock. However, on fifty minutes, the United broke out and several phases involving both backs and forwards eventually saw Babarinsa score an outstanding team try. Moffat missed for once but five minutes later a crunching Aaron Ryan tackle led to a turnover inside the United’s twenty two and Yorke again collected the loose ball and outpaced the flagging home side defence for a fine individual score from eighty metres. Moffat converted and added a penalty goal soon afterwards to extend the United lead to 28-12. The knockout punch by an ebullient United was delivered ten minutes as Yorke completed his hat trick with a fourth United try securing a bonus point into the bargain. Moffat added the conversion.
Cinderford United; James Moffat, Harrison Yorke, Liam Littleton, Ben Penfold, Alex Jackson, Angus Bowyer, Ollie Whiting, Daniel Keat, Sam Baker, Jake Drinkwater, Dale Lemon, Sam Morse, Aaron Ryan, Matt Allcock, Will Hodgetts (Capt). Replacements (all used on rotation); Toby Farrier, Reece Lane, Terence Babarinsa.