Stroud Combination Cup Semi-final Stroud 21 Cirencester 27 Following the disappointment of a narrow loss in the league the week previously Cirencester returned to action on Saturday in the Stroud Combination Cup semi final against local rivals Stroud - the team that beat them in the final last year.

The Cirencester team showed a number of changes from the week earlier - notably Ed Alderman playing on the flank, Dan Carter returning in the second row and Nick Warren, returning to his old club, at Full Back.

As one would expect from a team placed a league higher, Stroud started the stronger, early pressure resulting in avoidable errors and Seb Dix kicking 3 penalties to open up a 9-0 lead. After 21 minutes, Ciren got into their stride and broke through the home defence for a try by number eight, Nav. Although the conversion was missed it was evident that Cirencester were very much in the game.

Seven minutes later, Stroud were back in the driving seat when, after good interpassing in midfield, the ball was moved wide for winger Jimmy Sharples to cross in the corner for a 14-5 interval lead.

A score early in the second half may well have clinched the game for Stroud but it was Cirencester who took the play to Stroud from the kick off and it was no surprise when, after 45 minutes, they reduced the deficit, with a Seb Gennillard pressuring the catcher of a tasty cross field kick from Phil Farrow. Cirencester's stand-in captain on the day Luke Fisher wrestled the ball free to score an unconverted try.

Ciren now had their tails up and, six minutes later, stole after lineout ball, and drove for the line scoring through scrum half,James Fisher. Ciren were in front for the first time. Just before the hour mark a well worked move allowed Ciren to extend their lead with a well worked try by centre, Martin Crouch.The conversion was added by Farrow .

Stroud were struggling to get a foothold in the game - their lineout being targeted by Dan Carter and Jason Sullivan but, with ten minutes left they gained a lifeline when good handling and passing by the threequarters gave Sharples a chance to run. He was soon closed down but kicked into the Cirencester 22 where possession was regained and Dave Evans, a Stroud replacement, took the scoring pass to cross by the posts. Dix added the conversion and the gap was closed to one point.

However, two minutes later, Stroud were pinned back in their own 22, panicked under pressure, and a catalogue of errors presented Cirencester with the deciding try by Luke Fisher. The conversion was missed but Cirencester held out for the last three minutes until American refereee, Richard Parker, on exchange from New England sounded the final whistle to the jubilation of Cirencester. The dejected Stroud team left the field knowing that this was the first time in their club history that Cirencester had beaten them but the result reflected the inventiveness and commitment of the Ciren boys. The final is on 3rd May at Stroud RFC between Cirencester and Fairford.

This Saturday, Town entertain Old Richians at home in the league knowing another win will give them hope of remaining in Gloucester Premier.