Thornbury 2nds 17 Reading Abbey 24

READING Abbey were welcomed to Thornbury at the end of a Bristol tour and won the game in bizarre circumstances.

With the game heading for an honourable draw, a frail but elderly player who had toured with Abbey for many years came on to fulfil a tradition of playing and scoring on every tour he had been on.

Thornbury obliged and he meandered the length of the field to score the winning try with the last play in the game.

The hosts chose a side consisting of second, third and veteran players, plus a few from the Colts.

They took an early lead when Alfie Richardson raced diagonally across field from a scrum to score out wide.

The conversion missed but Thornbury were 5-0 ahead.

It then became clear that Abbey’s players were less incapacitated from the excesses of their tour than had been anticipated and it was not surprising when their forwards drove a prop over to equalise.

Thorns went back ahead when Paul Lambert crashed over alongside the posts shortly afterwards.

Abbey scored again from a quickly penalty with the conversion putting them 12-10 ahead at the interval.

Ten minutes after the restart Richardson broke from halfway, handed off his wing and scorched in for a fine try, which he converted for a 17-12 lead, but that was cancelled out when Abbey scored again to tie the scores a few minutes later.

With five minutes to go Abbey introduced Charlie Andrews, an important and well-liked stalwart of the club.

Sadly, his health was not great and Thorns were aware of the scoring tradition and asked not to tackle him.

Within a minute he was set on a speedy stroll down the wing and as he approached the Thornbury line he touched down for the try. Unfortunately for him it was the five metre line and not the goal line.

Instead Thorns counter-attacked and a great run by Bernie McMullen put Chris Till through a gap on the Abbey 22.

Tilly charged for the line like Jason Robinson, then veered to his right, side-stepped a covering prop in the style of Phil Bennett, dummied the full-back a la Brian O’Driscoll, then as he was tackled a metre short he passed to the supporting Paul Lambert, but it was forward and the try was disallowed.

The referee called last play. Abbey heeled the scrum then Andrew received the ball. He perambulated upfield with Thornbury tacklers evading him and eventually scored between the posts. He converted his try and the game was over.

Thornbury scorers: Tries - Alfie Richardson (2), Paul Lambert; Conversion - Alfie Richardson.

Former Lions centre Steve Fenwick is guest speaker at Thornbury’s annual dinner on May 16.

Thornbury’s AGM is at the club on Thursday, May 22.