THORNBURY went down fighting to a powerful North Petherton side that showed why they are run-away leaders of South West One West, writes Dave Fox.

The visitors recovered from a sluggish opening quarter to play well in the middle of the game before conceding late scores that gave an unflattering reflection to the scoreline.

North Petherton immediately took control of the game and went ahead with an early try from a five-metre lineout. Shortly afterwards Tim Stephens kicked a penalty to open Thorns’ account at 5-3.

The Thornbury scrum conceded a strike against the head on 12 minutes which North Petherton capitalised on with a well-executed three-quarter move for a try which was converted. Midway through the first half another Thornbury scrum was lost and crisp passing put the left wing in for the third try. The conversion put North Petherton 19-3 ahead.

This seemed to galvanise Thornbury and an excellent rolling maul forced a penalty. Seconds later Liam Pemberton was driven over and appeared to ground the ball, but the referee disallowed the try. Thorns remained on the attack and a pin-point cross-kick from Stephens found Ollie Fleming unmarked out wide and he dived over in the corner. Stephens missed the difficult conversion but Thornbury had narrowed the gap to 19-8. Thornbury then played their best rugby of the game and only good defence by North Petherton kept them out. The half time score remained 19-8 to the home side.

The third quarter of the game was even with the Thornbury defence able to deal with the North Petherton attacks, disrupting them at the breakdown and launching attacks of their own. As the match went into the last quarter North Petherton visibly increased their intensity and were awarded a push-over try that gave them the bonus point point. The try went unconverted but North Petherton led 24-8.

Thorns hit back with an excellent try. Jak Evans burst away on a terrific sprint for the line and was caught by the cover a metre out but North Petherton were penalised. The penalty was taken quickly and Adam Hodgkins crashed over for the try. The conversion went wide but Thorns were now 24-13 behind.

However, a penalty three minutes later and a try in injury time saw North Petherton home.

Thornbury played in patches, but this was largely due to them not being allowed to play. The North Petherton pack was big and bulky and denied Thornbury clean possession. Nevertheless there were some good individual performances from Thorns with Jack Hussey and Evans involved in everything, with the latter pulling off two try-saving tackles. The scrum struggled but Thorns were unlucky to have another try disallowed and the 19-point margin of defeat was harsh. Thornbury can now focus on a home game with Bridgwater (2.30pm) and the opportunity to avenge the defeat there last autumn.

Thornbury scorers: Tries – Ollie Fleming, Adam Hodgkins; Penalty – Tim Stephens.

  • Thornbury seconds lost 34-14 to Bristol Students but the thirds defeated Bishopston seconds 17-7.

This weekend, the seconds are away at Matson in Gloucester whilst thetThirds are also away, taking on North Bristol seconds at Oaklands.