Thornbury 29 Cleve 3

Thornbury delivered a controlled performance to see them to a maximum points win over awkward opposition, writes Dave Fox.

Thorns scored three second-half tries into a fierce gale to extend a worryingly small half-time lead into a comfortable victory.

They kicked off with the gale behind them and went ahead on two minutes when Sam Poustie cross-kicked for Jonny Sanderson to score in the corner. The conversion was blown wide but Thorns had the perfect start.

Thorns nearly scored a second from the restart when a Harry Glew box kick was spilled and Rich Bennett gathered the loose ball and ran clear but Thorns were unable to capitalise. And that was the nature of the game for the remainder of the first quarter. Thorns were in command but unable to score, although Sanderson had a try disallowed.

Early in the second quarter Thorns scored again largely due to the individual brilliance of Alfie Richardson. Thorns won a scrum in their ‘22’ and Cleve’s backline gave him time and space to run in. He exploited a gap and roared away on a ninety-metre run to score between the posts. Poustie converted for a 12-0 lead.

But Thorns were unable to add to that and at half-time many concerned Thornbury supporters feared that 12-0 was not enough to face the wind in the second half.

Their worries looked justified as Cleve started the second half well and kicked a penalty to reduce arrears to 12-3. But that was to be their only score. Thornbury’s pack quickly got on top and monopolised possession and carried well forcing Cleve onto the back foot. As the third quarter drew to a close Thornbury extended their lead. They attacked from a scrum on the Cleve ‘22’ and good hands created the chance for Bennett to score. Thorns were now 17-3 up.

Harry Glew took a quickly penalty and sprinted through the defence only to be hauled down five metres short but from the ensuing scrum Jack Hussey picked up and put Billy Cantin for the bonus point try. Poustie added the extras and at 24-3 Thorns looked home and dry.

Thornbury were now using their backs to carry the ball to, through or around the Cleve defence and with the scrum on top another score looked likely. They duly scored again from an outstanding attack started on half way in which several backs handled the ball before Richardson and Bennett combined for the latter to score his second try.

Thorns tried to add to the tally but were unable to do so and ran out healthy 29-3 winners.

This was a good performance from Thornbury although the first half was far from perfect when playing with the elements. However the second half was far more controlled, they played to their strengths and used their skill and fitness to wear down Cleve. There were a number of eye catching performances but the man of the match went to Alfie Richardson for his outstanding try and his confidence to take on and beat players seemingly at will. Thornbury move up to third in the table.

Next Saturday Thorns are home to second-placed Devonport Services, kick-off 2.30pm.

Thornbury scorers: tries –Sanderson, Richardson, Bennett (2), Cantin; conversions –Poustie (2).