Newent and Drybrook served up a classic Combination Cup final for a big crowd at Cinderford’s Dockham Road ground, writes Simon Barker.  

The outcome of the game was in doubt until the final whistle, with Newent prevailing 33-29 to reverse their narrow defeat by Drybrook in last season’s final.  

Newent were led out by second row Matt Henry, playing his last game before retirement after 15 years.

Tom Webb opened the scoring with. Tap penalty, forcing his way over wide on the left.  His conversion was off target but a few minutes later he made no mistake from the tee after Drybrook were penalised 20m out.

Newent’s next attack stemmed from turnover ball on their own 22.  A kick-chase from Jacob Ivell saw forwards Will Tanner and Mason Emery held up just short of the line before Drybrook were penalised again.  Tom Webb kicked the goal for 11-0  

Drybrook’s scrum-half, Sam Moreton-Smith then finished off a move initiated by left-wing Luke Roberts for 11-5 at half-time.

The Squirrels started the second half as they finished the first, scoring three tries in the first 12 minutes.  

Once again Drybrook turned over the restart kick to launch a multi-phased attack which ended with the forwards forcing their way over wide on the left.  Full back Andy Milner landed a fine conversion to put Drybrook ahead for the first time. 

One of several strong carries from Drybrook’s skipper Mitch Bourne sparked his side’s next attack, taken on by Sam Morton-Smith who seemed destined to score until stopped by a superb cover tackle from his opposite number Jacob Ivell, in his last game before taking up a contract with National Two side Sevenoaks.  

Drybrook then ran back a clearance kick from halfway and a multi-phased move was finished with a try by the posts, converted by Andy Milner.  

A penalty for interfering with the jumper at a lineout gave them a throw-in 5m out. Morton-Smith crossed from close range and the conversion was missed, but Drybrook had scored 24 unanswered points either side of half-time.

When Drybrook knocked on the restart kick, Newent probed away before replacement James Hartland made the key line break and fed right-wing Fin Mellis.  Tom Webb converted well to reduce the deficit to 18-24.   

An unconventional 50:22 from Webb, who fly hacked a loose ball, soon had Newent back on attack.  The lineout was lost, but Drybrook were penalised at the breakdown and Webb landed the three pointer from 30m to reduce the deficit to 21-24 as the game entered its final quarter.   

Dan Fletcher moved into the back row temporarily, but a few minutes later he popped up on the right wing to finish a move started by Webb.  The conversion was missed, but Newent were back in front 26-24.  

Drybrook soon had an opportunity to regain the lead but the penalty was pushed across the face of the posts.  

With two minutes to go Dan Fletcher scored a try converted by Webb for 33-24.

Ryan Chappell scored Drybrook’s fifth following a deft offload.

Drybrook thought they had it when they secured the line out from a penalty for Mitch Bourne to plunge for the line but the referee ruled no try and blew for full-time. 

Newent tighthead prop Mason Emery was named player of the match ahead of a strong cast of contenders from both sides which must have included, amongst others, both scrum halves Jacob Ivell and Sam Morton-Smith, opensides Leo Oakey and Sam Peaper, Drybrook’s No 8 Mitch Bourne and Newent’s inside centre Tom Webb