Old Cents were made to work for their latest league victory over a Cheltenham Tigers side who played their hearts out in the first half but were blown away in the second by a far fitter home side.
Cents had not played Cheltenham at first team level for well over 30 years and with this being their first local derby of the season,the home side did not know what to expect from their struggling visitors.Cheltenham lie near the foot of the table and were looking for their first win of the season after seven straight defeats although most of them were on the road.
Despite Cheltenhams lowly league position they gave Cents a difficult first half after taking the game to the home side through their big forwards.They also tackled well and forced Cents to make numerous handling mistakes through their aggressive defence.Cents struggled to find any fluency in their play and this was not helped by all the changes that the home side had to make before the match.
Cheltenham had the upper hand in the first 25 mins and they led 0-3 after converting a penalty after a period of heavy pressure on the Cents line.The home side were struggling to break out of their own half for long periods,however in the 28th minute Sam Preece scored the home side's first try when he was driven over the Cheltenham try line following a drive by the Cents forwards from a lineout.Liam Hemming converted well from wide out and the home side now led 7-3 and on the stroke of half time the home side increased their lead when Hemming converted a penalty following good work by the home sides forwards.
The home side led 10-3 at the break and the score reflected the hard work put in by the Chelltenham side who had frustrated the Old Cents with their pressure in defence.However the home sides supporters knew that their team could play better and their forwards were getting on top
before half time so an interesting second half was in prospect.
Cents effectively won the match in the first 15 of the second half when they ran in three tries scored by their young winger Alex Maton.The young winger took his tries well and they came about after some enterprising play by the Cents backs who at last were finding space because of a tiring Cheltenham side.Liam Hemming converted two of the tries and the home side were now 29-3 in front and they now had their bonus point.To their credit Cheltenham stuck at their task and made the home side work for any further scores although they were visibly tiring after a sterling defensive effort.Cents went on to score three further tries through Rob Pinkney,Liam Hemming and Michael Mathers.Liam Hemming converted all three tries to complete the home sides scoring and Cheltenham were rewarded for their efforts when they scored a converted try near the end of the match.
Final score 50-13 to Cents and it showed when the home side have space and time they can punish most sides.Cheltenham were well in the match for 40 mins but they could not cope with the home sides fitness and they can no doubt build on this to fight their way out of relegation.
Cents now turn their attention to the big local derby next week against near neighbour's Coney Hill and they know they will have to improve on this latest disjointed performance.However they will be helped by having a strong squad to choose from with players returning from injury.