South West One West
Thornbury 0 Chard 59
THORNBURY fielded a young and very inexperienced side against promotion-seeking Chard and although well-beaten came out of the game with great credit.
With several players away on Easter holidays and many injuries, Thornbury struggled to find sufficient players to field a team. Many players made debuts of one form or another and several were chosen out of position.
Jon Pullin answered a call during the morning to cover the bench, 23 years after he made his first team debut.
Thorns kicked off but were immediately on the back-foot.
After seven minutes the visitors went ahead when the left wing chased a kick ahead which bounced viciously away from the defence into his arms and he ran in for a converted try.
Chard pressurised Thornbury’s set-piece and securing clean ball from the lineout became difficult but Jack Hussey did well to control the ball at the back of a retreating scrum.
However, Thorns struggled to get over the gain line and aggressive tackling forced several turnovers.
A terrific tackle from Rich Bennett on the Chard full-back saved a certain try.
Then the wing scored a second converted try, which was quickly followed by a third try for the other wing and Chard were 19-0 ahead.
Luke Workman charged away on a spectacular 40-metre run which looked to lead to a try but Thorns were turned over and the ball cleared.
Then Thornbury ran out of defence but were turned over and a counter attack was finished off by Chard.
As the match went into injury time their forwards crashed over for another try.
The conversion missed but Chard were 31-0 ahead at half-time.
The second half began as the first had ended with Chard on the attack and Thornbury tackling ferociously, but eventually the visitors scored again when the left wing completed his hat-trick in the corner.
Rob Higgitt initiated several good attacks and Bennett had a good run but these led to nothing, and after Chard turned over another attack a sweeping movement ended with another converted try.
One teenage prop replaced another as Jack Summerfield came on for Luke Panting as Thornbury enjoyed their best period of the game.
Twice Higgitt made half-breaks but Chard were determined not to let Thornbury score.
A great tackle by Bennett prevented a certain try but Chard scored a push-over try shortly afterwards.
With the last play Chard ran back a kick ahead to score. The conversion brought the game to a close.
Thorns were well beaten but there were many positives from their performance.
The defence was generally good and the rare attacks would have yielded scores against inferior sides.
They never gave up and the teenagers in the pack will have learned a lot from playing such a well-drilled and powerful unit. Luke Panting had a good game and again showed his deft hands although under pressure in the scrum.
Hussey had a fine game dealing with difficult ball at the back of the scrum and carrying well whilst James Wood was outstanding in defence and attack.
He also showed great maturity encouraging his team-mates at key times. But securing good quality set-piece ball remains a serious problem for the team.
Thornbury play their final league game of the season at bottom club Sidmouth on Saturday and they will be determined to finish with a flourish.
* Thornbury Development played their second final of the month but lost 24-0 to Coney Hill in the GRFU Colts Cup Final at Cleve RFC.
They were denied the services of some players due to college commitments and, with others injured, there were such difficulties in fielding a side that the game had to be played with uncontested scrums.
Despite the strenuous efforts of captain James Wood and his team they were undone by the superior handling and continuity of the Coney Hill backs.
Nevertheless, the players had done well to get to the final and did themselves and their club proud.