GLOUCESTER Magpies suffered their first loss for the rugby league season, going down to the Stroud/Clarence Town side on Saturday in front of a packed Bert Gallagher Stadium.
With the ground in super condition considering all the rain, the day started early for the town with the juniors taking the field at 10am.
A cracking three games of footy then followed by two women's ladies tag games set the scene. Then to the big one where the Magpies were looking to maintain their unbeaten record.
From the kick off the Gloucester side knew they were in for a tussle against a fired up opposition.
There was no score after the first 18 minutes following some strong defence from both sides.
Even with a Stroud player in the bin the Magpies couldn`t find a way around or through the opposition's defence.
Gloucester seemed a little flat for this one and with no football last weekend it looked to be taking a toll. Stroud opened the scoring in the 20th minute to go to a 6-0 lead and soon skipped to an 18-0 lead with two more tries.
One was a little controversial, but as a later photo of the grounding by one of our photographers showed it was a fair call by the ref and rookie touch judge.
With the half coming to a close, Gloucester needed to score and this they did. A good try to Johnny Cornelius right on the halftime bell saw the score 18-4 at the break.
The second half was a lot closer than the final score indicated.
Stroud scored first to take the score to 22-4.
The Magpies then started to play a bit of footy and stormed back into contention.
A try to mobile front rower Kyle Predebon and a conversion by Darcy Allardice made it 22-10. Stroud then scored again to skip to a 28-10 lead.
However, this didn`t break the Magpies' spirit and the other front rower, Matty Thomas, was next over the line and with Darcy`s radar on target the score now 28-16.
Then came the try of the day.
A chip over the top from inside our own half, a regather and then a pass to veteran halfback Hayden Tull, who had 40 metres still to travel. He did it with ease to score next to the posts.
The old boy did stay down for a while but we were unsure if it was because of the way he landed or the pile of Gloucester teammates who landed on him in the try celebration.
With Darcy converting there was only one try difference with 12 minutes to play at 28-22 and a big finale loomed.
However, as was the case for Gloucester on a few occasions, a mistake from the kick off saw Stroud score to make 10 the difference. The job was just a little bit harder.
Gloucester never gave up but once again a dropped ball with three minutes to go saw Stroud score take the game away with a 38-22 result.
The Stroud team is the benchmark as this bruising encounter showed.
Despite the loss it was a solid effort from our boys but no chocolates this week.
Next week is yet another break with a bye.
But the following weekend we travel to Dungog on Friday night to play the washed out game from three weeks ago.
Bus and times to be advised.
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