Thornbury 21 Sidmouth 15

Thornbury struggled to get going but had enough tools in the bag to defeat a lively Sidmouth side that dominated territory and possession throughout, writes Dave Fox.

Thorns defended well and took the few chances they created whilst Sidmouth were unable to score for lengthy periods.

Sidmouth began at top speed and went ahead with a fourth minute try after a period of pick and go on the Thornbury line. The conversion missed but Thorns responded from the restart. From a lineout close to the Sidmouth line Luke Panting was driven over for the try. Jack Pinker converted and Thorns were 7-5 ahead.

Sidmouth then took the game by the scruff of the neck and with excellent ball retention gave the Thornbury defence a thorough examination, but that defence was outstanding and repelled everything thrown at it. Sidmouth twice missed kickable penalties and halftime came with Thornbury more than satisfied with their slender 7-5 lead. It could well have been a Sidmouth lead.

Sidmouth began the second half with the same determination they had started the first. Ten minutes into the half Thorns kicked clear and former Exeter Chief Phil Dollman led an attack down the right. A looped overhead pass went forward and then there was a huge knock on. Sadly the referee missed both and as Sidmouth surged to the line Thorns’ influential lock James Wood dislocated a shoulder in a tackle. Sidmouth pounded the line again and a powerful tackle dislodged the ball from a Sidmouth centre who was about to score. The defence was nothing short of heroic.

After ten minutes camped in their ‘22’ Thorns managed to escape and put pressure on Sidmouth. Chris Perrett charged down a clearing kick, gathered the bouncing ball and ran in to score his first try for the First XV. Pinker converted for a 14-5 lead. Dollman reduced the deficit for Sidmouth with a penalty shortly afterwards.

As the game drew to a close Sidmouth were becoming frustrated by their inability to break through the Thornbury defence, whilst Thorns were not going to turn down the intensity of that defence. With ten minutes remaining Thorns attacked outside the Sidmouth ‘22’ and after stretching the defence to the right switched to the left. Jake Goodridge supported the move and sprinted clear to score Thornbury’s third try. An outstanding score, Pinker added the extras for 21-8.

The Thornbury scrum had been on top for most of the game and in stoppage time they secured a penalty from a scrum. Thorns moved the ball but it immediately broke down. Expecting the game to go back for the penalty Thorns momentarily lost concentration, the referee said advantage over and Sidmouth again surged into the Thornbury ‘22’ and scored a converted try. The referee blew for the end of the match with Thornbury winning 21-15.

It had been an absorbing match. Sidmouth had two-thirds of possession and territory yet were unable to do much with it. Thornbury’s defence was remarkably effective with every player putting their body on the line.

Next weekend Thornbury travel to St Austell for a particularly tough match.

Scorers: tries –Panting, Perrett, Goodridge; conversions –Pinker (3)


Thornbury Women 55 Sidmouth Valkyries 0

Thornbury women dished out a nine-try lesson to the newly-formed Sidmouth Valkyries in a fine game which showed the close ties of the rugby family. Emma Shackell scored a brace of tries in the first half and Polly Pearce two more in the second as Thornbury moved the ball through the backs whenever they had the opportunity. This was only the second game for the Devon side, but they played with great commitment and no little skill and will have learnt much from the experience.

Thornbury kicked off and went ahead within ninety seconds. Gemma Tyrrell, Polly Pearce and Sadie Giles combining to create space for Emma Shackell to score and open a 5-0 lead.

The next twenty minutes saw Thornbury testing the Sidmouth side, which tackled well, but Thorns kept the pressure on. Midway through the half Laura Panting burst out of a maul in the Sidmouth ‘22’ and scored. Then early in the second quarter Sadie Giles broke clear and raced in from halfway for a try which Fliss Place converted for a 17-0 lead.

The try of the match came a few minutes later when excellent passing across the three-quarters created space. Polly Pearce took the ball to five metres out and Emma Shackell scored her second try. The conversion missed but Thornbury led 22-0 at half time.

One of the biggest cheers of the afternoon came four minutes into the second half when after a period of pick-and-go Joy Ludlow crashed over by the posts for her first try in a Thornbury shirt. The sun came out as if a higher being approved of the score. Fliss converted for a 29-0 lead.

Rachel Underwood then capped a fine performance by scattering several defenders and taking a covering player over the line for another try, and Polly Pearce scored the seventh shortly afterwards. The conversion made it 41-0.

A powerful run from prop Zoe Lewis saw the next try and after Sharon Kingsland-Wain pressurised the Sidmouth defence Polly Pearce picked up the loose ball and sprinted in for the final try. Fliss converted both for a 55-0 win.

Thornbury scorers: tries – Emma Shackell (2), Laura Panting, Sadie Giles, Joy Ludlow, Rachel Underwood, Polly Pearce (2), Zoe Lewis; conversions – Fliss Place (5).