South West One West
Thornbury 15 North Petherton 16
THORNBURY dominated the second half of a tense game yet failed to convert territory and possession into a victory.
With their opponents down to 14 men and on the back foot, several second half chances were squandered and North Petherton’s dogged defence held out for an unlikely win.
For the second successive home game Thornbury switched the match to the Grammar School Playing Fields at the Sixth Form College due to a waterlogged pitch at Cooper’s Farm.
Thornbury kicked off uphill and after two minutes Ed Sheldon ran back a clearing kick and Jack Hussey burst through three tackles for Dai Matthews to feed Dan Hussey, who crashed through the visiting full-back for a fine try in the corner. Tim Stephens converted superbly from the touchline and Thorns had a 7-0 lead.
Thorns continued to play at a high tempo but were unable to score. The visitors then kicked two penalties to reduce Thornbury’s lead to a point.
North Petherton were then reduced to 14 men when a forward was sent off for verbally abusing the referee.
However they kicked a third penalty to ease into the lead and had it not been for a series of important tackles from Ed Sheldon, Dan Hussey and Mike Gaston North Petherton would have been further ahead than 9-7 at half-time.
Thornbury began the second half at top speed and dominated the forward encounters, however the visitors scored against the run of play from a 50-metre move. The conversion extended their lead to 16-7.
Four minutes later Stephens kicked a penalty.
With 15 minutes remaining a Stephens penalty hit the post.
Then a deliberate knock-on denied Matthews and Dan Hussey; Wayne Underwood collided with the referee in the shadow of the posts and shortly afterwards a Thornbury scrum drove North Petherton over the line but the try was disallowed for a knock-on.
Thorns seemed destined not to score. With three minutes of normal time remaining an overlap was ignored and a cross-kick found a defender rather than several unmarked Thornbury players. The chances were not being put away.
Thornbury continued to attack as the game went into stoppage time and after several drives on the line following a lineout Gaston crashed over in the corner. Stephens had the extremely difficult conversion to win the game but the ball went a metre wide and North Petherton had won.
There should be no blame applied to Stephens for the missed conversion.
Thornbury had ample opportunities to score several second half tries and win comfortably but failed to put their opponents away.
Thornbury scorers: Tries - Dan Hussey, Mike Gaston; Conversion - Tim Stephens; Penalty - Tim Stephens
This Saturday Thornbury travel to promotion favourites St Austell.
The coach leaves the clubhouse at 9.30am and the match kicks off at 2.30pm.
Thornbury seconds entertain Drybrook seconds, while the thirds are at Lockleaze to play Dings Crusaders thirds.
On Sunday, the Development XV are at Winscombe, 1pm.