Hertfordshire top the Division One South table of the Bill Beaumont Cup with maximum points following their six-try win over Gloucestershire at Hertford on Saturday.
It was by no means a straight forward win as, at half-time, the home side was 11-10 down after an error-strewn first half.
However, after the visitors extended their lead to eight points with a penalty try 10 minutes into the second half, Herts dominated the next 20 minutes and scored four tries to take the game away from Gloucestershire.
The Herts forwards had a better time in the scrums than last week against Kent, but the visitors still had the edge.
The lineouts went Hertfordshire’s way as they took two against the throw and obtained good ball from their own throws in. Together with a good performance in the loose this supplied plenty of good ball to the backs.
In the backs it was definitely a game of two halves as, during the first half, play was very disjointed with many handling errors, which could not be put down to the swirling wind.
After the break the Herts backs regained last week’s form and were a potent force again.
Gloucestershire took a five-point lead before the crowd had settled when wing Stefan Hawley intercepted on the half way line to sprint over for a try before the first minute was up.
Play was even but scrappy for a while, but Herts had the territorial advantage. They bravely elected to scrum a kickable penalty but nothing came of that, and a couple of chances went away through poor handling.
Then after 20 minutes, Herts robbed a Gloucs scrum 5 metres from the line, forcing the visitors to concede a penalty, and Coleman closed the gap with the simple kick.
Five minutes later, Herts were penalised at a defensive scrum and Craig Jackson kicked the points.
Herts had the best of the rest of the half but unforced errors continued the thwart them until a sustained attack was rewarded with a try by lock forward Ross Hamilton converted by Coleman.
The visitors responded and ran the ball deep into Herts territory where the attack was stopped illegally and Jackson restored the visitor’s lead with a penalty. Moments later came the half-time whistle, with the visitors leading 11-10.
Early in the second half both sides continued to make mistakes, but 10 minutes into the half Gloucestershire put on the pressure following a five-metre scrum.
The defence stopped the drive illegally, resulting in the award of a penalty try, which Jackson converted.
Herts then produced their best period of rugby. Almost immediately after the restart they ran a poor Gloucs clearance and the movement was completed by replacement fly-half Elliott Reeder.
Then George Elliott ran another poor Gloucs kick from well within his own half and, although he was tackled, the ball was won and Michael Sargeant touched down. Neither try was converted but Herts now had a two-point lead.
Herts continued to dominate play and, before long, Hamilton was held up over the line.
Herts attacked from the five-metre scrum and, after recycling the ball a couple of times, centre Dan Watt crossed the line and then added the two points to extend the Herts lead.
The home side continued to dominate play and five minutes later Elliott finished off a move in the corner and the game appeared as good as won.
Gloucestershire had other ideas and hit back via a try from flanker Marcus Brown following a drive from a line out. Jackson converted to reduce the gap to seven points, but Herts had the last word when they drove from a line out and lock Sam Lunnon touched down.
So to Redruth for the deciding match against Cornwall, kick off 3.00pm. Always a difficult prospect, but with Cornwall only beating Kent by six points, Herts have a fighting chance – especially if the backs can be provided with sufficient ball.
Hertfordshire: Tries – Hamilton 33m, Reeder 53m, Sargent 56m, Watt 65m, Elliott 71m Lunnon 78m; Conversions –Coleman 33m, Watt 65m; Penalty – Coleman 22m
Gloucestershire: Tries – Hawley 1m, Brown 75m, penalty try 50m; Conversions – Jackson 50m, 75m; Penalties – Jackson 26m, 37m.
Henry Robinson (Darlington Morden Park); Nick Hankin (Bishop’s Stortford), Sam Winter (Bishop’s Stortford), Dan Watt (Old Albanian), Jimmy Spiers (Old Albanian); Tom Coleman (Bishop’s Stortford), Michael Sargent (Hertford); Ralph Adams-Hale (Old Albanian), Brett McNamee (Old Albanian) (Capt), Billy Walker (Bishop’s Stortford), Rob Conquest (Darlington Morden Park), Ross Hamilton (Old Albanian), Ollie Cooper-Millar (Old Albanian), Nick Stevens (Old Albanian), Steve Ball (Bishop’s Stortford).
Replacements (all used): Will Roberts (Loughborough Students), Oliver Walliker (Hartbury College), Charlie Hughes (Old Albanian), Harry Green (Tring), Sam Lunnon (Old Albanian), Elliott Reeder (Old Albanian), George Elliott (Hertford).