South West One West: Thornbury 31 Paignton 14
12:00pm Thursday 14th March 2013 in Thornbury Sport
THORNBURY returned to winning ways but rarely got into top gear as they piled further pressure on struggling Paignton, writes Dave Fox.
Playing uphill, Thornbury started well for the first time in 2013. After three minutes Tim Stephens kicked an excellent long-range penalty to put them 3-0 ahead. Thorns went further ahead on seven minutes when Jak Evans broke from a lineout on the Paignton ten metre line and after a powerful run put Rob Higgitt in for the opening try. Tim Stephens added the extras for a 10-0 lead.
After some scrappy play with many errors from both sides Paignton missed a penalty. Shortly afterwards Thorns attacked and some great passing saw George Jackson put George Maggs in for the skipper’s first try of the season. Stephens missed the difficult conversion but Thorns were 15-0 ahead.
As the match approached half time a Paignton centre intercepted and raced upfield but a great Ollie Fleming tackle saved a try. Paignton continued to attack but a knock-on denied them a try and Craig Beyer also pulled off a try-saving tackle and the half time score remained at 15-0.
Dai Matthews came on for Rob Higgitt at half time but the team had lost its concentration as Paignton carried on where they left off before the interval. Thorns struggled to clear and after conceding a penalty Paignton took it quickly and scored a converted try. At 15-7 Paignton were in with a sniff but Stephens kicked a penalty after the referee had issued a warning to both captains following a scuffle to put Thorns 18-7 ahead.
Wayne Underwood nearly broke through with a clever kick behind the Paignton defence but generally Thorns were making too many errors and missing tackles which allowed the visitors back into the game. When Paignton broke away and scored a second converted try things got very nervous at 18-14. The third quarter was lacklustre and Thorns didn’t use the wind at their backs.
The wind then blew a Stephens penalty wide but as the match went in the final quarter Thorns regained their control of the game and there was some rhythm to their play. Wayne Underwood kicked a superb drop goal to ease Thorns to 21-14. Stephens kicked a further penalty minutes later then raced upfield from the Paignton restart and Rich Bennett seared through the visitors’ defence for a superb try. Stephens converted.
During the second half Jon Day came on for Adam Hodgkins for what is considered to be his 500th senior appearance.
Overall, Thorns put in a mostly solid performance, but they will need to raise their game as they play teams higher in the league in the remaining part of the season.
Thornbury scorers: Tries – Rob Higgitt, George Maggs and Rich Bennett; Conversions – Tim Stephens (2); Penalties – Tim Stephens (3); Drop goal - Wayne Underwood.