Thornbury Ladies 5 Cheltenham Civil Service Ladies 39

IF pride and desire alone won games the Thornbees would have comfortably secured a win in their first home game but defensive errors proved costly.

The younger and more experienced Cheltenham Civil Service Ladies side proved to be more accurate and efficient and ran away with the game in the second half.

The hugely inexperienced Thornbees, with another group of players playing their first game of rugby, dominated the early rugby on an afternoon of constant rain in front of a big crowd that cheered on their every move. Playing downhill they controlled possession, had a disruptive scrum and carried well.

It looked as though the Thornbees would take the lead on ten minutes when skipper Gemma Tyrrell raced clear after a good offload inside but was unable to ground the ball in-goal.

The ladies continued to press but good handling on a counter-attack by Cheltenham Civil Service took play deep into the Thornbees’ ‘22’, and eventually good offloading and support play put them in for a converted try.

Undaunted, the Thornbees returned to the visitors’ ‘22’ and applied great pressure but handling errors close to the line handed key possession to their opponents. Then with time running out Jo Johnson drove and earned a penalty. Laura Panting took it quickly and the ladies headed for the line. The ball was recycled and Lou Oakey crashed over for a deserved try. The conversion missed and the Civil Service ladies led 7-5 at half time.

In a game of two halves, the second half was all the Civil Service. The backs handled well and as the Thornbees became increasingly tired they fell off too many tackles and Civil Service ran in six unanswered tries.

The Thornbees forwards were outstanding, particularly in the first half, when the scrum was on top and the ball carrying of Jo Johnson and Laura Panting was both impressive and essential. Some of the close handling was very good but ultimately the youth, fitness and experience in key positions of the Civil Service side was the difference in the teams, and were factors that the visitors used well to score tries and chalk up a score which flattered them.

The first season of the Thornbees is all about learning the game and enjoying playing. Although being on the receiving end of a big score is not ideal the Thornbees will learn from the experience.

The Thornbees play again next Sunday when they Aretians at home, kick off 2:30.

Thornbury scorer: try – Lou Oakey