A PENALTY six minutes into stoppage time denied Thornbury victory against determined opposition in a close match played at the old Grammar School, writes Dave Fox.
Despite scoring a try in each half, Thornbury had plenty of opportunities to win the game but too many errors at crucial times prevented further scores.
Bridgwater started the better through a strong scrum and took control. Thornbury fell off many first-up tackles but a James Murray tackle saved a certain early try. Eventually, after 13 minutes Bridgwater scored a pushover try which saw them deservedly lead 5-0.
Bridgwater took play back into Thornbury territory but a counter-attack involving Jak Evans, Rich Bennett and Rob Higgitt sent Jack Hussey through a gap in the defence but the pass to Wayne Underwood went to ground and a glorious chance to score had gone.
Midway through the half a Thornbury clearance kick missed touch and Bridgwater attacked again with poor tackling allowing their winger to race in for their second try. The conversion gave Bridgwater a 12-0 lead.
Thorns eventually got going and Jack Hussey was close to scoring. Tim Stephens and Ed Sheldon ran hard but the defence held out, before a poor clearing kick was fielded by Sheldon on halfway. He cut through several defenders, kicked ahead and was tackled gathering the ball on the Bridgwater line, but Bennett picked up the loose ball and dived over for the try. Stephens converted well. Bridgwater remained 12-7 ahead at half time.
The third quarter was all Thornbury but they were unable to score despite some dangerous runs and several line breaks which were not capitalised upon. The nearest Thorns got to scoring was a Stephens penalty which went just wide.
Thorns continued to launch attacks and with ten minutes of normal time remaining they won a lineout in the corner and drove for the line. Jon Day burst out of the maul and crashed over for the try. Another excellent Stephens conversion saw Thorns go 14-12 ahead.
Bridgwater desperately tried to regain the lead and threw everything into attack. Thorns struggled to close the game out and after Bridgwater had missed one penalty the referee spotted hands in the ruck and Bridgwater replacement Ashley Honeywell coolly kicked the winning points.
As the touch judges raised their flags the referee blew for the end of the match. Thornbury never really got going whilst Bridgwater, motivated by a desperate need for points in their efforts to escape the relegation zone, seemed to want the win more. Thornbury will feel they had chances to win but a knock-on here or a forward pass there suggested they were not as precise or focussed as they can be.
Hussey had a fine game and Stephens was more prominent in attack. Sheldon caught the eye with some excellent running, good footwork and tackling on his first start for the first team. He was the catalyst for the first try and looks a valuable addition to the squad. Thornbury scorers: Tries – Rich Bennett, Jon Day; Conversions – Tim Stephens (2).
- This weekend a Thornbury XV welcome Exeter Engineers, students at Exeter University, to the club for a friendly.
The match is due to kick off at 2.30pm but consult www.thornburyrfc.com for an update and more details about the venue for the game.
- Thornbury seconds returned to winning ways with a confidence-building 18-17 win at Matson.
- This Sunday the Colts play their long-awaited National Cup tie with Ivybridge. The match was postponed in January and the boys have had little chance to play since New Year due to the weather.
Although preparation has been far from ideal they will travel to Devon confident of a win.