THORNBURY capitalised on Cleve’s indiscipline to recover from a 21-0 half-time deficit and win a thrilling game which secured maximum points.

The win, coupled with other results, moved Thornbury to fourth in the table.

Cleve took early control as Thornbury seemed lethargic and struggled to get their hands on the ball. The first quarter was untidy but as the game entered its second quarter Cleve opened the scoring with a try from winger Adam Lambert, who exploited a defensive error, with Matt Spencer adding the conversion.

The lead became 14-0 with a converted try by Spencer as the Thornbury defence cracked again As the match approached half time, the Cleve pack drove over from a lineout for a try from Nathan Huntley, again converted by Spencer, which saw them go into the break 21-0 ahead.

Thorns started the second half positively and Dai Matthews made a fine break which Jack Hussey and Wayne Underwood continued for Jak Evans to score close to the posts after 51 seconds. Tim Stephens converted. Thornbury’s tails were up and after turning over Cleve in their 22 Matthews and Adam Hodgkins performed a scissors move and Hodgkins charged towards the posts for Evans to put Matthews in wide out. Thorns were back in the game at 21-12.

Shortly afterwards Cleve’s discipline deteriorated and for the third time they had a player yellow carded. Another powerful break from Matthews wreaked havoc but Cleve’s clearance was gathered by Rob Higgitt on halfway. He made a searing break through midfield, linked with Jack Hussey, took the return pass and crashed over by the posts. Stephens converted to reduce the deficit to a single score at 21-19.

Cleve flanker Dan Lear was sent off for a head butt but Andy Priddle scored their fourth try, again converted by Spencer, minutes later to restore a nine-point lead at 28-19 with eight minutes of normal time remaining. Thorns knew they could win through their backs and after securing another turnover Matthews scored Thornbury’s bonus point try. Stephens converted and once again Thorns were back within a score of the lead.

That lead was secured four minutes later. Rich Bennett counter-attacked from his own line. Hussey fed Higgitt, who cross-kicked for Ollie Fleming to chase, kick ahead and dive on the ball for Thornbury’s fifth try. The conversion missed, but as the game went into stoppage time Thornbury were ahead for the first time at 31-28. Four minutes later Fleming scored again to go two scores ahead. Cleve secured a losing bonus point with a Spencer penalty in the last seconds.

Thorns were as dynamic and focussed in the second half as they were lethargic and ineffective in the first. Evans and Matthews were a handful which Cleve struggled to deal with. Thornbury made the most of Cleve’s indiscretions and dominated the breakdown in the second half. This Saturday, Thornbury play Clevedon at home, 2.30pm.

Thornbury scorers: Tries – Jak Evans, Dai Matthews (2), Rob Higgitt, Ollie Fleming (2); Conversions – Tim Stephens (3).

  • Thornbury seconds lost 27-9 to Cleve seconds whilst Thornbury thirds lost 22-24 to Dings Crusaders thirds.

Thornbury Colts started their GRFU Cup Pool matches with a 40-21 win over Cirencester. They are at home next Sunday to Dursley.