Thornbury 2nds 52 North Bristol 2nds 0
A HASTILY arranged friendly was welcomed by both teams, though North Bristol’s anxieties about facing higher-league opposition were eventually justified.
Thornbury’s try haul included a hat-trick from Rich Bennett and particularly fine scores from Mike Gaston (2) and Chris Rovery with Mike Davies scoring with the last move of the game. Joe Jackson had an impressive afternoon with the boot, adding numerous conversions.
The two main differences between the teams were firstly Thorns’ first-contact commitment and second their cutting-edge pace from more exalted backs.
Tries in the first and sixth minutes from Thornbury ominously heralded a testing afternoon for the visitors.
Another on 15 minutes gave a hat-trick of easy break-away scores that shocked North Bristol in a 21-0 first-quarter deficit, which highlighted the visitors' weak first-up tackling.
In what was the first game of rugby played at Thornbury rugby club in 2014, the strong running of Thorns’ Chris Till, Jack Somerfield, Rich Bennett, Brett Duddridge and Mike Gaston caused constant problems for North throughout the game, and the Thornbury scrum took no prisoners.
Gradually however North gained some composure through the gritty play of Matt Bowden and Steve Underwood in midfield and tireless doggedness from Steve Cumberpatch and Chris Gransden.
North thereafter were able to make good team-supported sorties into Thorns’ territory but, as was the case throughout, were unable to find an effective finishing touch.
Largely, unfortunately for North, many of Thorns’ counter-attacks, often from deep, produced points, though it was only 35-0 at the interval.
In the second half former Thornbury coach Mike Davies took over at scrum half with Tom Head moving to full back.
Tom Wyatt made an impressive senior debut in a side made up predominantly of second, third and colts players.
Under pressure at the scrum, where novice prop Martin Worgan learned a lot through sheer determination and the guidance of skipper Bes Reed, North were glad of a productive lineout where Ian Kellaway spent the afternoon flying high to Colin Brittan’s excellent darts.
Cumberpatch’s drives off the base of the scrum were a crucial part of North’s attacking platform, while last man standing Peter Swallow, bravely countered well from deep. Nevertheless, only Thornbury could convert action into points.
North’s major failing on the day, as Thorns rattled in three more good tries in the second half, was their inability to stick to a game plan. Nevertheless, they plugged on gamely.