DOGGED forward play and tight defence were sufficient to end a run of three consecutive defeats and see Thornbury return victorious from Paignton.

Second half tries from Rich Bennett and James Murray and 13 points from Tim Stephens saw Thorns secure a crucial win.

Tim Stephens slotted over a first-minute penalty to give Thorns a perfect start. They demolished the first Paignton scrum and moved the ball through the hand with Ollie Fleming, Rich Bennett and Dai Matthews having good runs while Kev Rudrum burst through several tackles on a fine run. After applying more pressure in the Paignton 22 they were awarded a second kickable penalty which Stephens slotted over for a 6-0 lead.

Paignton began to get more into the game after a torrid first quarter and drove over for an unconverted try from a five-metre lineout. Two minutes later Paignton took the lead through a drop goal.

Thorns had allowed Paignton back into the game and the home side led 8-6 at the break.

Thornbury started the second half well and were again on top. They returned to the lead on 53 minutes when a kick from Wayne Underwood was miss-fielded by the home defence. Dai Matthews was up very quickly and kicked the ball on for Rich Bennett to gather the loose ball and score between the posts. Stephens converted for a 13-8 lead.

Paignton returned to the lead from a converted try after attacking for ten minutes on the Thornbury line. Stephens restored Thornbury’s lead within two minutes through his third penalty after Paignton were penalised for retaliation.

As the match drew to its close Paignton missed a difficult penalty that would have seen them go ahead again. However, it was Thornbury who scored the final points of the game. From a lineout ten metres out, Rudrum burst through and was held up close to the line but Murray was in support and with the help of his pack was driven over the line for the try. The conversion missed but time ran out for Paignton to score again with Thorns deservedly winning 21-15.

This was a much-improved performance from Thornbury in difficult conditions against awkward opposition. The scrum was on top and Thorns were more competitive at the breakdown.

There were good performances from several players, particularly Rudrum in his first start of the season.

Thornbury scorers: Tries – Rich Bennett, James Murray; Conversion – Tim Stephens; penalties - Tim Stephens (3).

* This Saturday, Thornbury are away at Avonmouth in the Bristol Combination Cup, a repeat of last season’s final, 2.30pm.

* Thornbury seconds lost 19-14 to Matson seconds.

Thornbury Colts’ game at Keynsham was postponed due to a waterlogged pitch.