Cinderford visited Clifton’s Cribbs Causeway ground for the first time in nine years and found the going just as tough as it has always been. There has never been much in matches between these two old rivals and just six points separated the two sides at the end of a see-sawing struggle. That Cinderford prevailed was thanks to the boot of fly-half James Moffat who converted three of the foresters five tries.
Some strong running from Clifton’s backs set up an early try for blind-side Mike Uren before prop Charlie Bullimore bullocked over to increase the Bristolians lead. Crucially though what should have been two relatively simple conversions were missed. Cinderford flanker Aaron Ryan finished off some good work by the foresters to surge over for a try which Moffat converted but Clifton soon hit back with a try from wing Ian Clark who gathered a poorly judged Cinderford kick. Nevertheless a try by wing George Bvuma who gathered Moffat’s neat chip at full tilt had the visitors followers whooping. Just before half-time Andy Chesters claimed Clifton’s bonus point try from a catch and drive.
Whatever Cinderford’s Paul Morris said to his charges during the interval seemed to have done the trick as Cinderford surged up the slope for prop James Tideswell to bundle over and Moffat to convert. Wing Ollie Whiting then took advantage of a Clifton error to go over in the corner. However the try of the match followed soon after when Bvuma finished off a telling Cinderford thrust by slicing through a desperate Clifton defence for Moffat to add the extras.
Clifton looked weary and the match looked done and dusted but some exasperating defensive lapses let them back in when Clark scored his second. Cinderford were glad to cling on as Clifton’s late surge foundered on a determined defensive wall.
Cinderford will be pleased to have come back from a shaky start characterised by some schoolboy errors that will need to be fixed before next Saturday’s visit by second-placed Bishop’s Stortford while Clifton will dwell on the truth of the old adage that kickers win rugby matches.