A DOMINANT second half was not quite enough to see Thornbury win at Cullompton, writes Dave Fox.
Despite out-scoring the Devon side on tries, luckless Thorns were penalised too often and had a good try disallowed. Thorns hit the ground running and from a second-minute lineout drove over the Cullompton line. Tom Guzman was clearly seen to ground the ball but the referee disallowed the try.
Two minutes later Rich Bennett came off his wing and split the defence but the line remained intact. After a few minutes of desperate defence Cullompton took play into the Thornbury half and began to control territory and possession. Midway through the half two quick penalties put Cully 6-0 ahead. They added a third on the half-hour when skipper George Maggs was harshly yellow carded.
In the dying moments of the first half Wayne Underwood and Kev Rudrum burst through before the ball was moved to the right where George Jackson charged through a gap to score. Tim Stephens narrowly missed the conversion but Thorns were back in the game at 9-5.
Cully responded and after intensive pressure in the Thornbury 22 they scored in the corner. The conversion missed but Cullompton led 14-5 at half time.
Thornbury started the second half well and after 60 seconds Jak Evans broke from a lineout on the ten metre line and sprinted into the Cully 22 before passing to the supporting Adam Hodgkins, who scored Thornbury’s second try. The conversion went wide but Thorns only trailed 14-10. The gap was narrowed further five minutes later when Stephens kicked a penalty.
Thornbury were now well on top and constantly threatened to score. Evans and Bennett were close to opening the defence, then a fine run by Wayne Underwood and a deft inside pass out of a tackle almost created a try, but the home defence kept Thorns out.
As the match went into the final quarter the hosts intercepted a Thornbury attack on their own line and raced away for a try which extended their lead to 19-13 against the run of play.
Stephens made the score 19-16 with a penalty from the restart then following intensive Thornbury pressure another fine break by Rudrum took play deep into the Cullompton 22. The ball was recycled quickly and after a lofted pass into space Jack Hussey drove over for the try. The conversion went wide but Thorns were 21-19 ahead.
The lead lasted two minutes. From a deep restart Thornbury elected not to kick the ball clear. Underwood was tackled in front of his posts, penalised and another successful penalty put Cullompton ahead again.
The visitors tried everything to score but no amount of effort could break through the well-organised defence and Cullompton held out.
Thorns left Stafford Park with a losing bonus point and remain fourth in the table. Thornbury scorers: Tries – George Jackson, Adam Hodgkins and Jack Hussey; Penalties – Tim Stephens (2).
This Saturday Thornbury are away at top-of-the-table North Petherton.
- Thornbury thirds had a resounding 51-10 win over Aretians seconds, with Ed Sheldon scoring seven tries for Thornbury on his senior rugby debut for the club.
Thornbury Colts played only their second game in 2013, losing 12-0 to Dursley. The Colts have an away game with Cheltenham this Friday evening (7.30pm) at The Prince of Wales Stadium.
This Saturday Thornbury seconds are home to Bristol University seconds and Thornbury thirds are home to Bishopston seconds. Games are scheduled to kick off at 2:30pm at the rugby club but a late decision may switch the games to the Grammar School or The Chantry if pitches remain waterlogged.