THORNBURY failed to deal with a dominant Old Reds scrum which took control in the second half, yet matched their hosts in every other facet of the game, writes Dave Fox.
Despite two fine tries Thornbury came away empty-handed and drop a place to sixth in the table.
An early Rich Bennett run deep into the Old Reds 22 setup Tim Stephens for a third-minute penalty. But Thorns’ lead was short-lived as Old Reds scored an unconverted try in the corner.
Jack Hussey was winning an increasing amount of loose ball and Thorns had the majority of possession. However, as the match progressed so the Old Reds scrum began to dominate the set-piece. From a scrum infringement the Old Reds kicked a penalty which saw them 8-3 ahead half time.
That changed within five minutes of the start of the second half. Playing uphill Thorns played with an intensity which Old Reds struggled to deal with. Jak Evans and Dai Matthews made penetrating runs and Tom Guzman was tackled short of the line. From a lineout Evans and Paul Lambert made good ground before quick ball was moved into midfield and Matthews burst through three tackles to score a fine try. The conversion went wide but the scores were tied at 8-8.
After a series of devastating scrums the Thornbury defence was on the back foot and the Old Reds outside half raced through a gap in midfield for a try which he converted, then added a penalty three minutes later for an 18-8 lead.
Thornbury were pinned down on their line. After a series of scrums at which Thornbury were penalised the referee awarded a penalty try to Old Reds which was converted. With five minutes of time remaining the Old Reds No 8 crashed over from another scrum on the Thornbury line for their fourth try to lead 32-8.
Thornbury refused to give up. As the match went into injury time Thorns turned over Old Reds and moved the ball to Liam Rinn, who cut inside the defence and linked with Adam Hodgkins.
George Maggs ran hard but as he was forced close to the touchline he flicked the ball back inside for Hodgkins to crash over in the corner for a well-deserved try. Aside from the scrum it was a good performance from Thornbury, who were competitive in every area of the game. Jack Hussey was outstanding in the loose and both Tom Guzman and James Murray showed up well with good carries. Bennett and Matthews had several good runs but with the scrum in trouble attacks from set-pieces were difficult. Thornbury will be well aware that this Saturday there is another game against a powerful scrummaging pack with the arrival of Camborne at Cooper’s Farm, 2.30pm.
Thornbury scorers: Tries – Dai Matthews, Adam Hodgkins; Penalty – Tim Stephens.
l Thornbury seconds went down fighting to a strong Clifton seconds. They overcame a poor start to give the league leaders a fright before going down 27-12.
Thornbury thirds were unlucky to lose 19-17 to Old Bristolians thirds.
On Saturday the seconds and thirds are away to Avonmouth and Clifton respectively.
l Thornbury U18s are in the Plate Final of the Colts league versus either Dursley or Cinderford on Sunday, at St Mary’s Old Boys RFC, 12pm.