Gloucestershire Warriors show true grit to take title

CELEBRATE: Gloucestershire Warriors

CELEBRATE: Gloucestershire Warriors

First published in Sport

WEST OF ENGLAND DIVISION

GLOUCESTERSHIRE WARRIORS 32 

SWINDON ST GEORGE 28

In an unbelievable game, Gloucestershire Warriors came back from 28-0 down at half- time to snatch an incredible 32-28 victory over Swindon St George at Saintbridge.

It wasn’t so much victory from the jaws of defeat more halfway down the throat as Swindon St George put in a superb first half display to score six unanswered tries. They converted just two and that kept them just about in the Warriors sights.

From the first whistle Swindon attacked the Warriors down the Saintbridge slope. Their play was composed and structured and they piled on the pressure after a nervy start from both sides.

Liam Rowe slipped through to open the scoring for the visitors after 11 minutes and they soon added a second as Bruce Vuetanatotoka crossed on the last tackle.

The Warriors looked as if the occasion had got to them and their discipline was awful as they handed the initiative to their opponents who took full advantage.

After giving away three straight penalties, the Warriors conceded their third try as Carl Baker drove over in the corner. Killian Spain had only converted one of the scores but Swindon’s goal-kicking woes were in marked contrast to their try-scoring skills.

Their fourth score arrived soon after Baker had crossed. With their supporters roaring them on, George Cowley finished a good move to touch down. The Warriors were barely able to get out of their own half such was the abject nature of their play but towards half time, they came close as Tom Askew was held up short.

A 22-6 deficit would have been a good score for the Warriors but Rowe raced over from a 20-metre restart for a try converted by Spain and at 28-0 things looked bleak for the home side. A further score for Swindon and it was surely game over, but if the Warriors could score early in the second period it would be game on.

With the slope now in their favour, the Warriors got the first of the five converted tries they needed seven minutes into the half, Kirk Lewis going over from close range, Ash Lewis adding the goal. Swindon’s composure began to crack and Reece Kinnett was sent to the sin-bin for foul play.

Dale Cook stretched out an arm to touch down seven minutes later and when Ben Brinkworth drove over to score, there were just ten points between the sides and the comeback was well and truly on.

Swindon had lost the advantage and were being pinned back in their own half as the Warriors piled on the pressure looking to complete their mission impossible.

Cook went over for his second try with fourteen minutes to go and on their next set Taniela Ratu saw a gap and went over from twenty metres out – arguably the first break the Warriors had made all game.

Lewis missed the conversion but the scores were now level. The penalty count, heavily against the Warriors in the first period was rapidly levelling up as they dominated possession and Swindon’s discipline wavered. Lewis stroked over an easy goal from one award to give the home side the lead with ten minutes to go.

Swindon almost snatched the lead back but Dan Brown’s effort was ruled out for a foul and Lewis edged the Warriors four points ahead with another penalty.

Having seen their lead wiped out, Swindon pressed for the leveller but the Warriors’ defence forced an error with their final attack and the rescue was, unbelievably, complete.

WARRIORS: Taniela Ratu; Matt Evans, Dale Cook, Ollie Cooper, Kieran Cox; Kirk Lewis, Ash Lewis (Capt); Arron Almond, Tom Askew, Ben Brinkworth; Matt Price, Richard James; Paul Hewitt.

INTERCHANGE: Chris Benjamin, Jake Thompson, Alex Mahoney, Jerome Moore, Lance Hills, Dean Banks, Lee Brinkworth.

Scorers: Tries; Kirk Lewis (47), Dale Cook (54, 66), Ben Brinkworth (57), Taniela Ratu (67), Goals; Ash Lewis 6 from 7.

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