South West One West: Thornbury 18 Clevedon 10

THORNBURY secured their first win over Clevedon in over six years in a fine game of rugby played on a heavy pitch.

A try in each half secured the win, although several scores went begging as close defence and the wind frequently made handling difficult. Nevertheless, this was Thorns’ third successive league win which consolidates their fourth place in the table.

Clevedon played downhill in the first half with an icy gale at their backs. Thornbury made light of the conditions and attacked from the outset. Jak Evans, Kev Rudrum, Jack Hussey and Ollie Fleming were all prominent but the Clevedon defence was tight and some of the Thornbury handling was laboured. In the first quarter the Thornbury pack twice tried to batter their way over the line and George Jackson made a blistering break from a scrum but the run led to nothing. Somewhat against the run of play it was Clevedon who opened the scoring through a 22nd minute penalty by Mike Taylor.

Although trailing 3-0 Thornbury were undaunted. Ten minutes after going behind Tim Stephens equalised with a penalty, then close to half time Thorns took a Clevedon lineout and after several phases in which Wayne Underwood and Jack Hussey were prominent Dai Matthews evaded two tacklers to touch down for his tenth league try of the season. Stephens’ conversion was wide but Thorns were 8-3 ahead at the break.

Thornbury continued to attack in the second half but the Clevedon defence was well-organised and Thorns were not helped by knock-ons. From one such error five metres from the Clevedon line the ball went loose and the scrumhalf George Towers led a kick and chase up to the Thornbury posts. He was obstructed close to the line and the referee awarded a penalty try which was converted to put Clevedon 10-8 ahead.

As the match went into its final quarter Stephens kicked Thornbury back ahead with his second penalty. Thornbury continued to give width to the ball and it wasn’t long before their moves worked when, with nine minutes of normal time remaining, Rich Bennett came off his wing and took a deft inside pass to score by the posts. Stephens converted to put Thornbury two scores ahead. Thorns continued to keep control of the game and deservedly held out for the win.

The margin of victory denied Clevedon a losing bonus point and Thornbury may reflect that they should have scored more tries.

They had clear opportunities to score at least three others but a combination of good defence, mistakes and wrong options prevented a try bonus being earned. Thorns have positives and negatives to work on ahead of Saturday’s difficult trip to sixth-placed Cullompton.

Thornbury scorers: Tries – Dai Matthews and Rich Bennett; conversion - Tim Stephens; Penalties – Tim Stephens (2).

Other results: Tewkesbury 2nds 27 Thornbury 2nds 24; Whitehall 2nds 5 Thornbury 3rds 21.

  •  This Sunday, Thornbury Colts travel to Devon club Ivybridge for their fourth round National Colts Cup tie. The Colts have had a successful season which has included the younger boys lifting the GRFU U-18 Plate title.

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