Rugby: Thornbury do themselves proud against strong Bristol Combination side

Gazette Series: Children from Thornbury's junior section provide a guard of honour for Jon Day as he runs onto the pitch Children from Thornbury's junior section provide a guard of honour for Jon Day as he runs onto the pitch

Thornbury 12 Bristol Combination 50

THORNBURY’S Jubilee celebrations closed with a spectacular game against a strong Bristol Combination side based around players from the National Leagues.

Although Thorns were without several leading players, the opportunity was taken to bring several other players into the first team environment and the youngsters did themselves proud.

The match was preceded by a minute’s silence in memory of Cliff Barrington, who passed away the day before.

It was fitting that this service should occur before a match staged to celebrate 50 years of the rugby club he was hugely influential in founding.

The Combination kicked off downhill on a glorious afternoon.

They were close to scoring early on but Thorns turned-over a scrum and took play into the Combination half by good use of their backs.

The first score came after ten minutes when Thorns were turned over in the Combination 22 and a counter-attack ended with wing Matt Watkins scoring a spectacular try. The conversion saw the Combination 7-0 ahead.

Matt Belbin put Harry Hone in for the second try shortly afterwards and wing Joe Sansum scored a third a few minutes later to stretch the lead to 19-0.

Thorns returned to the Combination 22 and applied concerted pressure. Wayne Underwood was heavily involved but a Thornbury scrum was disrupted in front of the Combination posts and a counter-attack ended on the line, but the forwards drove over for a try from a lineout.

As half-time approached former Thornbury player Belbin touched down and his conversion put the Combination 31-0 ahead at half-time.

Thornbury used the bench and Joe Jackson, starting at nine, was moved to ten in place of Wayne Underwood with Tom Head coming in at scrum half.

Within a few minutes of the restart two quick passes from Head created space out wide and Dan Green raced away, only to be downed by a well-timed ankle tap.

Thorns were on top and nine minutes of concerted pressure on the Combination line resulted in a penalty.

Liam Pemberton took it quickly and, after several players had handled, the ball reached Jackson, who drove through for the try. The conversion missed but Thorns were on the board.

A few minutes later a fine break by Rich Bennett wrong-footed the Combination defence. Jackson deftly kicked ahead for Ben Guzman to score Thornbury’s second try.

Jackson converted to bring a degree of respectability to the score at 31-12.

However, Thorns made a hash of gathering the restart and conceded another try.

The remainder of the half was close with both teams attempting to play open rugby.

Handling errors prevented both sides increasing their score until Sansum scored two late tries to bring up Combination's half-century.

The pace and power of the Combination side was ultimately the difference between the sides.

There was a lot for Thornbury to take from the game. Bennett and Dan Hussey regularly got through the first line of defence whilst half-backs Head and Jackson had an impressive second half, with Jackson enjoying a fine game throughout.

Thornbury scorers: Tries - Joe Jackson, Ben Guzman; Conversion – Joe Jackson

Thornbury travel to Wadebridge Camels on Saturday, knowing a win would make them mathematically safe in South West One West, however the Cornish side are desperate for points to escape relegation and a tough game is promised.

The seconds are also in Cornwall and will play Bodmin. Both games kick off at 2.30pm.

Thornbury Development XV are home to Gordano on Sunday, 1pm.

Thornbury players Luke Panting and Ed Sheldon were try-scorers in Gloucestershire under-20s' fine 56-3 win over Berkshire at Cinderford last Sunday.

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