Drybrook 52 Thornbury 14 - Match report by Dave Fox. 

Thornbury ended their season with a heavy defeat to Drybrook in the quarter finals of the Papa John’s Cup. 

Thorns were without the services of three leading forwards for the game and seemed distracted whilst an impressive and dynamic Drybrook side ran in seven second half tries to earn a semi-final tie with Trowbridge.

Thornbury kicked off on a pitch containing pools of rainwater at one end, and immediately were hit by the physicality of the home pack. They were shredded at the first two scrums and Drybrook kicked two penalties. Thorns had a prop harshly yellow-carded at the next scrum but good defence kept Drybrook out as they looked to make their numerical advantage count.

Jack Pinker narrowly missed a penalty shortly afterwards then Thorns earned a lineout in the Drybrook ‘22’ following a 50:22 kick. After the lineout was secured the forwards picked and drove for the line where Jack Pickles dived over. Pinker’s conversion put Thorns 7-6 ahead.

The Second quarter was spent predominantly on the back foot but Thorns were becoming frustrated and struggled to deal with the interpretation of the referee. However, the score was close, even if the play wasn’t so even, and halftime came with Drybrook 9-7 ahead.

Drybrook restarted the match at top speed and after a period of pressure the inside centre scored an unconverted try. A few minutes later Drybrook attacked at pace from a lineout in the Thornbury ‘22’ and the same player stepped around the defence and scored between the posts. The conversion put Drybrook 21-7 ahead.

Thorns were making too many mistakes, and whereas every pass had stuck the week before the handling at Drybrook was poor. As the third quarter drew to a close Drybrook’s centre completed his hat-trick with the conversion further stretching the lead, then the scrum half scored from a dominant scrum on the Thornbury line and although unconverted it put the tie out of Thornbury’s reach at 33-7.

In the final quarter Thorns doubled their score when after they had driven from a lineout in the Drybrook ‘22’ the ball was moved and Ben Wood came in on a good line and scored. Pinker added the extras, but shortly afterwards, with the match in injury time, Drybrook scored three tries in six minutes to give a scoreline that didn’t really reflect the game.

Thornbury didn’t appear to be as motivated or focused as the fiercely intense Drybrook side and suffered the consequences. It was a disappointing end to a tough season. They struggled to get going. Drybrook were able to maintain possession with considerable ease and their recycling at the breakdown was impressively fast. Thornbury defended well for most of the game but could do little to slow down the Drybrook machine without incurring the wrath of the referee. In a bizarre appointment by the Gloucester Referees Society, they gave the game to a former Drybrook First XV captain although this had no effect on the result of the match.

Although Thorns will be disappointed with their performance and the result there is no disgrace in losing to Drybrook as they were comfortably the better side on the day. It will take a very good side to deny them the trophy.