Thornbury 24 Chew Valley 25

Thornbury were denied victory due to a controversial late penalty and left to rue a frustrating match which they could have had tied up by half-time, writes Dave Fox.

They also lost their unbeaten ground record having struggled to get going in the third quarter which Chew Valley dominated and scored two unanswered tries.

Thorns were without several players struggling with illness and injury whilst Chew Valley were able to select a full-strength side. The visitors kicked-off downhill but Thorns started the better. Harry Glew broke from a scrum and Thorns were awarded a penalty in front of the posts but went for a lineout rather than the points. Chew defended well and Thorns moved the ball but it was intercepted on Chew’s line and the centre sprinted away for the opening score and a 5-0 lead against the run of play.

Shortly afterwards Chris Moseley and Billy Cantin made fine breaks but Thorns didn’t have the accuracy to capitalise. The second quarter of the game took place almost exclusively in the Chew ‘22’ and after Thorns again ignored penalty kicks the visitors’ defence eventually cracked and Sam Evans crashed over from a lineout drive. Jack Pinker converted for 7-5.

But Chew Valley scored next when a missed tackle out wide allowed them behind the Thornbury defence to score a converted try. Thorns returned to the attack and Pinker and Cantin combined to send Dan Hussey for the line. He was tackled short but Ben Phillips picked up the ball and touched down. Pinker’s conversion put Thorns 14-12 ahead at the break.

Chew Valley began the second half the better. Thorns seemed to have lost much of their intensity and Chew capitalised. Their forwards drove hard at Thorns’ line before a sharp pass put the wing in for another try. Shortly afterwards their second row showed great determination to score their bonus point try. Trailing 22-14 Thornbury were now staring defeat in the face.

Alfie Richardson and Mike Beswick both breached the defence on inspirational runs that led to nothing but Thorns had regained the momentum. As the final quarter started Evans scored from a lineout for a third try with Pinker’s conversion making it a one-point game. Then Thorns’ centre kicked a penalty to put them 24-22 ahead.

With ten minutes left Thorns should have closed the game out but some wayward kicking gave possession back to Chew, who forced a penalty in midfield. Then with the referee playing advantage a Chew forward clashed Ben Marlow off the ball. Consequently instead of Thornbury having a penalty to clear their lines Chew’s fullback stepped up and kicked the winning goal.

Frustrated at the injustice, Thorns attacked from the restart and worked their way to the Chew Valley line. The Chew defence was sound. Pinker stood in the pocket looking to drop the winning goal, but the forwards sensed they were close, and then Moseley crashed over the line but the referee was unsighted, adjudged him held up and blew for the end of the match.

There were some fine Thornbury performances with Chris Moseley the outstanding forward whilst the sponsors awarded the Player of the Match to Jack Pinker for some exciting runs, brave defence and a 100% goal-kicking performance.

Thornbury travel to Newent on Saturday for an important match against a team desperate for points to ease their relegation worries.

Thornbury scorers: tries –Evans (2), Phillips; conversions –Pinker (3); penalty –Pinker.