Bridgwater & Albion 21 Thornbury 28

Thornbury secured the ‘double’ over Bridgwater in a game in which they were both outstanding and poor in equal measures, writes Dave Fox.

Thorns scored three tries but managed to butcher five other clear chances and allowed Bridgwater back into the game which resulted in unnecessarily nervous closing minutes.

Bridgwater began the match on top but Thornbury’s defence frustrated Bridgwater, who eventually opened the scoring with a penalty.

The restart enabled Thorns to take the game to Bridgwater and Jack Pinker, Jake Wood and Sam Garbett combined in a sweeping move that took play deep into the Bridgwater ‘22’. Thornbury attacked from a lineout and lock Tom Constable ran in unopposed for a try. Pinker converted for a 7-3 lead.

Bridgwater hit back with a second penalty then Thornbury attacked again and Pinker put Jack Pickles clear but his pass to Mike Priday went forward. But Thorns were not to be denied and a few minutes later the forwards rumbled from a lineout and drove Luke Panting over for his twelfth try of the season. The conversion missed, but Thorns attacked from the restart and when Bridgwater were penalised Pinker kicked the penalty to put Thorns 15-6 ahead at the break.

Thorns hit the ground running for the start of the second half. Wood made a glorious break but the last defender pulled off a try-saving tackle on Priday. Then Jack Hussey took a quick penalty a few metres out but was obstructed and Thorns could have been awarded a penalty try.

But Thorns were piling on the pressure and a hurried clearing kick was run back by Wood who ripped through the first line but a covering tackle dislodged the ball as he was about to score. Thorns were tearing Bridgwater apart but desperate defence and Thornbury errors prevented tries. On three occasions a potential scoring pass found the grateful arms of a Bridgwater player. Thorns should have been out of sight. Pinker kicked a penalty for an 18-6 lead.

As the third quarter drew to a close Bridgwater’s No.8 picked up the ball from a scrum five metres from his line. Ollie Maher tackled him, the ball went loose, Hussey collected it and passed out of the tackle to Pinker who scored Thorns’ third try, which he converted then added a penalty for 28-6.

There were ten minutes remaining when Bridgwater scored from a quick penalty then a few minutes later Panting put Garbett clear on halfway but the cover prevented a try just a few metres from the line.

Two minutes into stoppage time the home fullback threaded his way through some weak tackling to score then in last play the home second row strode through for a try. A final score of 28-21 seemed unlikely at one time.

At times Thornbury were irresistible. They played fast and furiously and created so many chances to score they could have doubled their total. In creating the chances they were terrific, in finishing them off they were very ordinary.

The final match of the season is on Saturday week when Thorns host leaders Chew Valley, who will go into the game knowing a win will see them become champions.

Scorers: tries –Constable, Panting, Pinker; conversions –Pinker (2); penalties –Pinker (3)