Thornbury were not quite able to prevent Chew Valley being deservedly crowned league champions, but pushed them all the way and shared eight tries in an outstanding game of rugby, writes Dave Fox.

The match was the final one of the season and the last for Sam Evans before hanging up his boots.

It was also the last game for Ollie Maher and Sam Garbett who are heading north to Leeds University.

Thornbury kicked off downhill in front of a large crowd. Thorns dominated the early exchanges but the Chew defence was solid and the tackling robust.

But Thorns continued to apply pressure and after ten minutes Jake Wood and Jack Pinker tackled a Chew player and the ball went loose for Mike Johnson to sprint twenty minutes for the first try. Pinker converted.

The restart enabled Chew Valley to take play into the Thornbury ‘22’. After a clearing kick had gone dead Chew had a scrum on the Thornbury line and the No.8 picked up and drove over. The conversion tied the score but Chew extended their lead as the match entered the second quarter with a converted try from a driving lineout.

But Thorns were not going to lie down. With thirty minutes gone they equalised. From a lineout in the Chew ‘22’ the forwards drove, then the ball was moved into midfield but Thorns had forced Chew’s defence to narrow and crisp passing put Mike Gaston in at the corner. Pinker converted for 14-14.

Shortly afterwards the Chew centres combined to race the length of the field for a third converted try.

Undaunted, Thornbury attacked again and in stoppage time Jake Goodridge led a charge down the left. The ball was recycled quickly then swiftly moved across the three-quarters where Gaston fed Jay Burley and the No. 8 scored. The conversion missed and Chew Valley went into the break with a slender 21-19 lead.

Chew secured their try bonus point just three minutes into the second half when their second row crossed for another converted try.

Trailing 28-19 Thornbury needed to score next, but a Chew penalty extended the lead to twelve points.

They regularly made great use of the wind and the kicking of their fullback ensured that Thornbury couldn’t escape from defence.

As the final quarter began the game swung from one end to the other as both sides played attractive open rugby and defended effectively. However a second Chew penalty with five minutes to go put the game out of Thorns’ reach at 34-19.

Then in stoppage time Thornbury launched a final attack. They drove from a lineout, then Jak Evans burst clear and scored the bonus-point try.

Then up stepped Sam Evans, and with his last action as a Thornbury player he converted his brother’s try.

Sam Evans converting the last try in his final act as a Thornbury player

Sam Evans converting the last try in his final act as a Thornbury player

This had been an outstanding game of rugby. There was everything on it for Chew Valley, whilst Thornbury had nothing to play for except pride and a desire to send the leaving players on their way with a win.

Every Thornbury player played well but Thorns’ most influential players were Jak and Sam Evans, who were both back to their best.

The match sponsors awarded player of the match to Sam Evans for a great performance in the tight and loose, as usual, as always.