The Phoenix kicked off toward the Racecourse end and took the game to the Tigers who responded with some determined running and astute kicking of their own to take play into the Phoenix half, reports FRANK BOWE.

The home side fell foul of the referee however, and Newent were awarded a penalty.

Unfortunately, the resulting kick failed to make touch and, from near their own 22, Cheltenham elected to run the ball back at their visitors.

They swiftly switched the attack to the right where the defence was sparce and found themselves clear to run in a superb try by Tyler Farley under the posts, which was duly converted by Kieran Cox.

Newent came back at Cheltenham and after an excellent penalty kick to touch by outside-half Josh Preston, the pack won the resulting lineout.

After several phases of play around the home side’s 22, a great inside pass by Preston was taken on the burst by Leo Oakey.

Oakey, playing his first match back after a long lay-off from a serious leg injury, sliced through the wrong-footed home defence to score a well-constructed but unconverted try just to the right of the posts.

There followed some good phases of play from Newent, with Jake Harkness making a good jinking run and the pack, well led by skipper Morgan Morris, making their presence felt in the tight exchanges.

After 15 minutes, replacement Lee Roberts, having a break from first team management duties, came on for one of his rare but much valued outings on the other side of the whitewash, and as usual gave 110% to the cause.

A nice break by Henson took the Phoenix into the Cheltenham 22 and from a subsequent play, Newent were awarded a penalty which was duly despatched to touch by Preston to give the visitors a lineout near the five-yard line.

A great drive by the pack resulted in Oakey being stopped illegally and referee Marc Barwick had no hesitation in awarding Newent a penalty try.

Cheltenham immediately responded with another long-range effort after Newent failed to make touch just outside the hosts 22.

The move ended with another excellent try by Kiti Gavidi in the corner which went unconverted.

A long penalty kick from Preston then found touch inside the Cheltenham 22 and from the resulting lineout Newent rumbled forward twice before Leo Oakey got the touchdown. Preston converted from the touchline for a 19-12 half-time lead.

Force of nature Josh Kell came on for the second half and was soon into action with his trademark tackling.

He needed to, because Cheltenham started the second half with a sustained period of pressure. Newent held them out, however with some great defence.

The hosts continued to press and most decisions were going their way. From one such penalty, they elected to kick for goal which proved to be a wise decision as Cox saw his kick bisect the posts for a critical three points.

Newent centre Finlay Mellis, who looked sharp throughout, almost got himself clear, but the Cheltenham defence just managed to hold him up.

With minutes to go, a crunching tackle by Roberts looked to have stopped a Cheltenham attack but the loose ball fell to the Tigers who capitalised with a try under the posts by Rich Athey.

Cheltenham failed to convert however, and this gave Newent an opportunity to regain the lead.

Despite losing Henson to a yellow card Newent threw everything into attack which provided an exciting finish to the game.

But there was no fairy tale ending, and, to the relief of the home fans and with the clock in the red, Cheltenham put the ball into touch to win the match.