NEWENT 20 CINDERFORD STAGS 10
IN A pulsating and thoroughly entertaining final at Regentsholme, Newent beat holders Cinderford Stags to win the Forest of Dean Combination Junior Cup for the second time in three seasons.
From the outset this was a real cup final encounter, full of intensity, pace and anxiety.
It was not until ten minutes had elapsed that the first real try-scoring opportunity presented itself.
Joe Goatley received the ball in loose play and made an electrifying break down the narrow side before being hauled in a metre short of the line.
In spite of their superiority it took a piece of Goatley magic to break the deadlock for Newent, as a magical dummy sold the Stags defence and allowed the fly-half in under the posts for a try he converted himself.
The same man extended the lead to 10-0 at the break with a penalty, which Morgan Goodball cancelled out at the start of the second half for Cinderford.
Goodball missed two more penalty attempts before Newent were roused from their slumber.
And it was Goatley again who delivered the goods. The Newent forwards went through several phases until the ball was released and the big fly-half barreled through a several tackles to score and again add the easy conversion.
On the 50-minute mark Cinderford infringed in front of the posts, attempting to stop Newent getting quick ball. Goatley stepped up again for an easy three points and Newent had opened up a 17-point lead.
At this stage Cinderford could have thrown in the towel, but it said a lot for their resolve that they came storming back at Newent and several forward drives were stopped or held up over the line.
Eventually the Newent defence were sucked in and Cinderford moved the ball out wide to create the overlap and go in at the corner.
Goodball kicked a superb conversion to reduce the gap to ten points with ten minutes remaining.
The game was building up to a hectic finale, but Newent maintained their composure and were effective in keeping play well inside their opponents half.
Indeed Newent nearly scored a brilliant try through Will Mansfield, who scythed through under the posts, but the referee deemed that he had impeded a Cinderford tackler and brought play back for a Newent scrum.
Cinderford were in a stranglehold and could not get out of it, courtesy of the magnificent pack, and when the final whistle went they were a well beaten side.