THORNBURY lost concentration for eight second half minutes during which Avonmouth scored 15 points and won this Combination Cup Quarter Final tie. Nevertheless it was an improved performance from Thornbury, who were forced to field a makeshift team against a side from the division above in a repeat of last season’s final.

Avonmouth kicked off and immediately took play down to the Thornbury line but good defence kept the home side out. Thorns had the edge in the scrum but struggled to get their hands on the ball during the first quarter which was almost entirely played in their 22. A fine penalty kick from Tim Stephens took play to the corner. From good field position Thorns attacked and were held up over the Avonmouth line. From the scrum Dai Matthews slipped through a tackle and stretched over for the try. Stephens converted and Thorns were 7-0 ahead.

Most of the remainder of the first half was spent in the Avonmouth half but both defences cancelled each other out. However, in injury time a drop goal from Matt Belbin opened Avonmouth’s account but Thornbury led 7-3 at half time. Shortly after the resumption of play, Matthews broke through the Avonmouth defence but Thornbury were penalised close to the Avonmouth line.

Thornbury attacked again and when the ball went loose on the Avonmouth 22 Stephens dropped a goal to ease them 10-3 ahead.

Thornbury’s kicking into the tramlines had worked well but a wayward kick nine minutes after the break was ran back through a series of weak tackles for a spectacular try. The conversion tied the scores at 10-10.

This merely encouraged Thornbury to increase the tempo of their game. Ben Fowkes made a good break and George Jackson burst clear from a maul as Thorns tried to regain the lead. Then midway through the half Thorns won a lineout and Fowkes broke through on a powerful run and took play up to the Avonmouth line. Colt Dan Green was on his shoulder in support and took the ball to crash over for a fine try. Stephens converted for a 17-10 lead.

Thornbury then appeared to go to sleep, missed an increasing number of tackles and allowed the home pack to drive over for an unconverted try. Then a further try two minutes later put Avonmouth ahead. The try was converted, then Avonmouth kicked a penalty which saw the game swing from 17-10 to Thorns to 25-17 to Avonmouth in eight minutes.

Thorns awoke and applied pressure in the dying minutes but the damage had been done and it is Avonmouth who progress into the semi-final of the Combination Cup against either Dings Crusaders or Clevedon.

Thornbury scorers: Tries – Dai Matthews and Dan Green; Conversions – Tim Stephens (2); Drop Goal – Tim Stephens.

* This Saturday Thornbury firsts return to league action with a potential banana skin of a home game with Oldfield Old Boys, 2.30pm. Oldfield are third from bottom but are a difficult side to beat and won at Thornbury last season.

The seconds are away at Old Patesians, while the thirds are also away at St Mary’s Old Boys. On Sunday, Thornbury U18s play Redingensians in the second round of the National U18 Cup at Rockhampton (2pm).