Christopher Wilson at Old Hale Way, Hitchin


Bristol All Golds opened their season with an emphatic 44-16 win over North Herts Crusaders at a cold and blustery Old Hale Way in Hitchin. Wing Leon Atherton led the way with four tries on debut including a hat-trick in the first fifteen minutes of the contest. 

The All Golds’ joy was tempered after centre Aedan Coleman suffered a nasty knee injury towards the end of his second debut for the club following his recovery from a similar injury.

The All Golds dominated the first period with some solid defence and pacy attack that resulted in half a dozen tries and a 26-0 halftime lead. The Crusaders came into the match in the second half with three tries, but the result was decided long before then.

None of Atherton’s first three tries were converted by Callum Merrett but he made up for it with an interception try goaled by Oliver Winterbottom. Coleman and Jack Uren also crossed to give the All Golds their unassailable interval lead.

In the second period, Atherton collected his fourth try from a perfectly placed cross kick by Darrion Ball before Oghenetega Rume-Tabiowo and Brandon Lamb finished the scoring for the visitors.

Two late Crusaders tries were fair reward for their efforts in an entertaining game. 


Bristol All Golds opened their season with an emphatic 44-16 win over North Herts Crusaders. Wing Leon Atherton led the way with four tries on debut including a hat-trick in the first fifteen minutes of the contest.

The All Golds fielded four debutants who contributed fully to the win. Apart from Atherton’s tries, Oli Winterbottom had an assist and a conversion to his name, Oghenetega Rume-Tabiowo scored a try and made some powerful surges up the middle, and former Bedford Tiger Chris Rees-Lloyd established the All Golds’ dominance up front from the early stages of the game.  

Callum Merrett and Aedan Coleman returned to the All Golds following a spell with West Wales Raiders and after recovering from long-term injuries, and both stood out with Merrett’s organisational skills allowing the side to move seamlessly around the field as well as adding a trademark interception try to his club record points tally. Coleman contributed some solid defence and powerful surges upfield as well as a well-taken try.

However, the game was to finish on a distressing note for Coleman who suffered a dislocated kneecap and is likely to be out of action for a considerable period. 

Last season’s meeting with the Crusaders was played in a downpour on a muddy field, but this year the conditions were dry but with a cutting wind chilling the spectators. The All Golds, though, warmed their supporters with some expansive play and some well-taken tries.

The Crusaders had been thumped 44-0 in their opening game against champions Hammersmith Hills Hoists and started brightly. The All Golds survived an early scare when Kudakwashe Gurure broke through the line, but the defence recovered and snuffed out the danger.

After seven minutes, Atherton began his personal try blitz when Winterbottom sent him over in the corner. Five minutes later, he was in again, Callum Merrett supplying a superb long pass for the wing to do the rest. He completed his treble three minutes later, Brandon Lamb’s pass giving him the space to score in the corner after Coleman had made a huge dent in the defence running a superb line.

Merrett was unsuccessful with all of the conversions from wide out and against the wind but made amends after 20 minutes as he pouched a stray Crusaders pass and ran half the length of the field to the posts. Winterbottom added the goal and, with a quarter of the game gone, the All Golds had a handy 18-0 lead.

The game took a breath at that point with neither side being able to complete a set for nearly ten minutes until the All Golds won a goal-line dropout and Coleman forced his way over for an unconverted score.

Six minutes later, the All Golds forced another dropout with a ferocious kick chase and Jack Uren fought his way out of a series of tackles to score.

Neither was improved and the teams turned round with the All Golds 26-0 ahead.

Having been nilled in their previous match last week, The Crusaders were determined to get over the line and a powerful run from Callum Hall in the second minute of the half got them on the board. Joe Hunter goaled and the Crusaders gained a bit of heart.

However, the All Golds maintained the gap between the sides as Rume-Tabiowo thundered over under the posts, Owen Priest adding the extras.

From their next set, the All Golds fashioned a try that will be a strong contender for try of the season.

Darrion Ball measured a kick to the corner to perfection and Atherton swooped to catch and ground the ball in one movement. Priest topped off this moment of magic with a fine touchline conversion.

Almost immediately afterwards, Lamb scored a rather soft try straight from a tap penalty, Priest adding the goal, and with just over a quarter of the game to go, the half century was in sight. 

However, the popular Coleman then suffered his injury, and the game went a little flat with the home side having the better of the final quarter on the scoreboard at least, as they crossed twice in the final ten minutes. 

The All Golds had one last chance for points, but Dom Williams was bundled into touch at the corner flag and couldn’t ground the ball after a strong break from Ed Tait.

With nine minutes left, Kyle Hughes went over straight from a scrum for the Crusaders before another All Golds error was punished, this time by Joe Allison. Will Evans converted Hughes’ effort and the Crusaders had something to build on for their next game.

For the All Golds, there were a number of good things on show in an impressive opening to the season but there are still plenty of details to work on in training to ensure they can control games when they are on top.

However, they may have to be without Coleman for a good part of the season and the All Golds’ best wishes go to him for a quick recovery. 





CRUSADERS: Sam Bellinger; Henry Ranson, Joe Hunter, Joe Allison, Ashley White; Jared Scott, Kieran Hozack; Luke De Normanville, Will Evans, Wilson Guliver; Kudakwashe Gurure, Callum Hall; Glynn Hughes (Capt.); INTERCHANGE: Kyle Hughes, Thomas Wilcock, Orett Riju, Brodie Feaver.



Tries: Hall (42), Hughes (71), Allison (76)

Goals: Hunter 1 from 2, Evans 1 from 1.


ALL GOLDS: Oliver Winterbottom; Leon Atherton, Aedan Coleman, Mason Ball, Dom Williams; Greg Hamilton, Callum Merrett; Ed Tait, Adam Turner, Chris Rees-Lloyd; George Murray, Brandon Lamb (Capt.); Jack Uren; INTERCHANGE: Owen Priest, Darrion Ball, Oghenetaga Rume-Tabiowo, Ben Cripps.


Tries: Atherton (7,12, 15, 50), Merrett (20), Coleman (29), Uren (34), Rume-Tabiowo (47), Lamb (53).

Goals: Merrett 0 from 3, Winterbottom 1 from 3, Priest 3 from 3.

Scoring sequence: 0-4, 0-8, 0-12, 0-18, 0-22, 0-26, (HT), 6-26, 6-32, 6-38, 6-44, 12-44, 16-44, (FT)

Penalties: Crusaders 8-5 All Golds

Referee: Gareth Winnard (RFL)

All Golds Player of the Match: With four tries on debut, Leon Atherton was the obvious choice. The wing scored a hat-trick inside the first 15 minutes and a brilliant finish from a magnificent kick really stamped his mark on the contest.