By Dave Fox

Tottonians 24 Thornbury 30

Thornbury opened their Papa John’s Cup campaign with a hard-fought win over Hampshire club Tottonians on a warm Southampton afternoon.

The match was won in the first half during which the forwards controlled the game and scored three tries. Tottonians hit back in the second half as Thorns were forced to make changes before holding out during a tense final ten minutes where their hosts threw everything at Thorns.

Thornbury kicked off and had a good first scrum shortly afterwards. Tottonians were penalised and Jack Pinker opened the scoring with a penalty. After six minutes Thorns went further ahead when good defence on the home ‘22’ forced an error as Tottonians tried to run out of defence.

Gez Asante picked up the loose ball and ran in for a try.

The conversion missed but Thorns led 8-0.

Tottonians defended well then took play into the Thornbury half.

Then with Thornbury had a player in the sin-bin Tottonians opened their scoring with a penalty.

Max Curtis was close to scoring, then early in the second quarter Thorns extended their lead. Luke Panting took a wayward Tottonians lineout on Thornbury’s ‘22’ and headed for the line.

He drew the cover and passed to Ben Wood in support who scored. Pinker’s conversion hit the post but he added a penalty shortly afterwards to extend Thorns’ lead to 16-3.

Tottonians scored their second penalty before Thorns scored their third try on the stroke of halftime.

Jack Pickles made a break from a lineout which put Tottonians on the back-foot before Henry Low took the move on and sprinted twenty-five metres for a fine try. Pinker’s conversion heralded the halftime whistle with Thorns 23-6 ahead.

Early in the second half Tottonians scored their first try from a lineout on the Thornbury line but Thorns scored direct from the restart.

After a clearing kick was charged down Pinker made a break and fed Asante who ran 20 metres to score between the posts. The conversion made it 30-11.

Thornbury continued to attack with a belief that another converted try would be sufficient for victory. 

But Thorns were their own worst enemy where overlaps were squandered and poor passes brought dangerous attacks to an end.

Instead it was the Hampshire club that scored next, crashing over from a another lineout and Thornbury’s lead was reduced to 30-16.

Replacements were made and a forward was yellow-carded but Thorns had lost their shape and Tottonians were on top.

Then with a player down injured Tottonians exploited the gap out wide and scored a third try. Then in stoppage time Tottonians took play back into Thornbury territory and kicked a third penalty. Trailing 30-24 they were a converted try away from a win.

Thornbury dug deep to defend their line and held out for a deserved if tense win.

It was a good performance for most of the game.

The forwards played well. The scrum had the edge and the loose play was particularly good. Henry Low and Gez Asante had particularly fine games whilst Jack Pickles and Max Curtis were the pick of a hard-working backline.

Tottonians played well after the break but it is Thornbury who progress into the second round where they play Farnham at home next Saturday, kicking off at 3pm.