Hornets 29 Thornbury 24

Thornbury lost top spot following a narrow defeat at third-placed Hornets but returned with two points having fought back to recover from a substantial deficit to lead in another terrific game of rugby, writes Dave Fox.

The floodlights were on as Hornets kicked off into heavy drizzle. The Somerset side dominated the early stages but crucially lost their hooker to an injury which allowed Thorns to dominate Hornets’ lineout.

But Thorns were called in to defend for most of the first quarter although an attack from a scrum in their ‘22’ saw Alfie Richardson take play to deep in the Hornets ‘22’. But normal service was resumed and Hornets returned to the Thornbury ‘22’ and kicked a penalty. They then attacked from the restart and poor defence let them in for a converted try and a 10-0 lead.

Thornbury got into the game as the match went into the second quarter and then scored the try of the match. Thorns ran the ball from a scrum in their half and Richardson broke clear and passed to Harry Glew who sprinted twenty metres to score. Jack Pinker’s conversion was narrowly wide.

Hornets immediately hit back with a second converted try and a 17-5 lead but the remaining fifteen minutes of the half belonged to Thornbury. Eventually from a lineout in the Hornets ‘22’ Thorns shoved their hosts over the line for James Phillips to score. Pinker’s conversion missed and Hornets led 17-10 at the break.

Three minutes into the second half a well-worked driving lineout on the Hornets line saw skipper Sam Evans crash over for the try. Pinker’s conversion tied the scores at 17-17.

Hornets regained control of the game and created space for the left wing to score an unconverted try that restored their lead to 22-17. The game swung back Thornbury’s way and Billy Cantin was tackled into touch by the flag. Once more Thorns pressurised the home lineout and Jack Hussey stole the ball, juggled with it and then grounded it over the line for Thornbury’s fourth try and a bonus point. Pinker’s conversion put Thorns ahead for the first time at 24-22.

Thornbury tails were up and returned to the attack but a refereeing error gave Hornets a scrum on the Thornbury ‘22’. Thorns gave Hornets too much room and following a chip over the defence they scored their fourth try. Hornets led 29-24.

Thorns had fifteen minutes to regain the lead, and they dominated most of those but were unable to score. Richardson nearly put Glew in then three minutes into stoppage time the Thornbury scrum imploded for the only time in the game and went for goal. This was Hornets’ chance to deny Thornbury the losing bonus point but the kick went wide and the referee blew for the end of the match.

It was a close game between two good sides, and Thornbury will think they could, perhaps should, have won it. They played well once they got going and did well to fight back from ten and then twelve points deficits to take the lead.

Thornbury will not be in action on the next league weekend. If results go against them they could be third by the time they travel to Keynsham on December 14th for their next game.

Thornbury scorers: tries –Glew, Phillips, Evans, J Hussey; conversions –Pinker (2)