University of Gloucestershire All Golds 10 Hornets 54
If half time is where good coaches prove their worth, then Ian Talbot revealed himself as a master motivator at a sun-soaked Prince of Wales Stadium.
Having seen his charges rack up an 18-nil lead in just 20 minutes, the anticipated landslide came to a grinding halt as Hornets sat back to admire their handiwork, allowing an enthusiastic All Golds back into the game.
After a sluggish start in the Cheltenham sun, Hornets clicked after 13 minutes as Jordan Case grabbed a rapid-fire double: first supporting a Carl Forster charge, secondly off a tidy Danny Yates pass after Hornets had piggy-backed upfield on the back of consecutive penalties. Gaz Langley converting two-from two.
And when Chris Hough released a 40/20 on 19 minutes, Hornets capitalised with Yates and Danny Davies combining to create space for Gaz Langley to score out wide. Langley slammed home the extras from the touchline on his way to a 100% nine-from-nine and an impressive personal haul of 22 points.
With Hornets now in total control, the game looked to be heading in only one direction, but a lackadaisical last 10 minutes of the half gave the home side all the encouragement they needed to play some enterprising football and grab a foothold in the game.
Running prop Tyla Hepi at Danny Yates out wide paid dividends, as a succession of second-phase plays drove Hornets backwards. On 29 minutes a Bradley kick was uncharacteristically fumbled under pressure by Wayme English and after some sustained pressure the All Golds worked Crowther through some indifferent defence by the posts. Bradley converted.
Within five minutes the home side had set-up camp in the Hornets 10 metre zone and it was Bradley's turn to grab a well-taken try off a well-timed Smith pass. Bradley hoofed the conversion attempt wide and low, but at 18-10 the home team's momentum was only broken by the half-time hooter.
It's fair to say that Ian Talbot wasn't happy in the sheds at the break. Having used the time to reiterate the importance of hard-work and of adhering to the game-plan, he sent out a reinvigorated, more determined Hornets.
Within five minutes Hornets had grabbed the game by the scruff. Playing at a palpably higher tempo and wih greater intensity in the tackle, John Cookson's try after 45 minutes finally prised the game open.
Four minutes later, Hornets created the try of the game: Mike Ratu's block-busting 50 metre break continued by Gaz Langley, his inside ball to Danny Davies who sucked in the All Golds full-back to send Steve Roper diving twixt the posts. Fantastic stuff. Langley added the extras.
Next, Mike Ratu turned scorer, bustling and hustling his way through defenders, followed closely by Chris Hough ducking in from close range.
With the home side visibly wilting in the heat, lively young half-back Danny Yates grabbed a couple for himself - the first the pick of the pair off a skittering Wayne English break that left the home defence chasing shadows.
In the wash-up this was a comprehensive victory. It'd be churlish to complain too much about Hornets' 10-minute sabbatical at the end of the first half, but the intensity and fluidity of the second period showed what's possible when the boys play to their full-potential and don't let teams off the hook. And, having imposed the All Golds' heaviest league defeat so far, it's fair to say that it was a good afternoon's work.
A mention too of the Hornets supporters who made up a decent proportion of the 250 present - a top effort from everyone.
As for the All Golds, their set-up at Cheltenham is impressive and, with Lionel Hurst and Brad Hepi on board they have the depth of League expertise they need build a club that 'grows in the community' rather than just bussing-in an Oldham side every other week as they have down the road at Oxford.
Hurst and Hepi are building from the ground-up and, with a trip equal to either of the West Cumbria clubs (and a town steeped in RL heritage), there's great potential for League to put down solid foundations here in the heart of *nion country.