South West One West
Thornbury 36 Clevedon 30
THORNBURY let Clevedon come back from 36-6 down to almost snatch victory at the death, but their six tries deservedly earned them maximum points.
Two tries from the outstanding Jack Hussey contributed to a first half haul of 31 points, which ensured resurgent Clevedon had too much to do in the second half.
With the pitch at Rockhampton waterlogged, the match was switched to the Grammar School Playing Fields where the crowd enjoyed a fine game of rugby.
Thornbury kicked off downhill and the forwards took control. After five minutes Luke Workman, Jack Hussey, Dai Matthews and Wayne Underwood combined to take play to the Clevedon line, where Underwood used great determination to barge over for the opening try. Tim Stephens converted.
Mike Taylor kicked a penalty for Clevedon but Thorns scored again a few minutes later. They attacked down the left and the forwards created space for Matthews to put Mike Gaston in for the try.
The forwards attacked again and twice drove over but the referee disallowed both tries. Then from a scrum on the Clevedon line Hussey broke away and crashed over for the third try. Stephens converted for 19-3.
Thornbury continued to play at an intensity Clevedon couldn’t match and after George Sheldon had pressurised a clearing kick, his brother Ed raced past two players before passing to Liam Pemberton, who scored the fourth try and secured the try bonus.
Taylor kicked a second penalty late in the half, then in stoppage time Thornbury had a lineout ten metres from the Clevedon line. They drove the lineout and Hussey scored again. Stephens’s conversion saw Thornbury 31-6 ahead at half time.
Shortly after the start of the second half Underwood broke clear from his 22 and raced upfield before passing to Matthews for the centre to score a sixth try. The conversion hit the post but Thornbury were now 36-6 ahead.
Thornbury then seemed to visibly drop their intensity and the control of the game swung to the visitors. As the match entered its final quarter the Clevedon scored two tries through Matt Honour and Tony Dauncey to bring the score to 36-18.
Three minutes into stoppage time Ashley Vailes scored in the corner. The conversion missed but from the restart the ball was kicked behind the Thornbury defence and Sam Cawley won the race to score alongside the posts.
Will Carpenter's conversion saw Clevedon only six points adrift. Thornbury survived a nervous final few minutes to secure a win that was far closer than anyone could have envisaged at half-time.
The match, in football parlance, was a game of two halves. The thrill-factor of watching Thornbury is great, even if the fingernails of the loyal supporters are frequently chewed to the elbow.
Not for the first time this season the momentum was lost at half-time. Thorns need to find the killer instinct to turn a 36-6 lead into a half-century of points.
This Saturday Thornbury travel to Gloucester for a difficult game with Coney Hill, 2.30pm.
Thornbury scorers: Tries - Jack Hussey (2), Wayne Underwood, Mike Gaston, Liam Pemberton, Dai Mathews; Conversions - Tim Stephens (3).
* Thornbury Development XV enjoyed a 17-3 win over Old Patesians at The Chantry in the first round of the Gloucestershire Colts Cup.
Tom Wyatt and John Hudson scored tries for Thornbury with Sam Jenkins converting both and Myles Rawstron-Rudd kicking a drop goal.
Their next County Cup match is at Lydney on February 2.
This weekend all Thornbury senior sides are away from home.
The seconds are at Avonmouth Old Boys and the thirds play Whitehall seconds, both 2.30pm.
On Sunday the under-18s travel to Weston Hornets in the next round of the National U18 Cup, 1pm.