Oldfield had lost their last 3 league fixtures building up to this game and whilst many people outside of the club started to write the boys off in this league, everyone within the club; had every confidence that the Red Army would come back strong after a well deserved break.
Oldfield welcomed back a host of players to the squad that lost to Clevedon in their last fixture, mainly due to injury. Adam Rolfe
, Ian Thomas, Pete Howard, and Charlie Yuille returned to the pack, whilst skipper Sean Lilley
, brad barnes
, Isaac Weier
, and Zak Ellis stepped back into the backline, as well as new signing Rhidian McGuire.
Thornbury kicked off, playing down hill and initially controlled the ball in Oldfield’s half. The forwards ran hard and the backs put width to the ball but the “Red Wall” stood firm. Five minutes into the game, the Thorns forwards spilled the ball in the tackle due to some ferocious defence and Oldfield launched into a swift counter-attacked and raced away up field. A fine cover tackle stopped the move on the Thornbury line but, scrum half Rhidian McGuire, followed up and dived over for the opening try on his debut. The conversion missed but Oldfield was 5-0 up.
From the restart, the ball went loose and captain Sean Lilley
kicked the ball from his own 22 to Thornbury’s 5-meter line. After reclaiming the ball from a clearance, Oldfield began an attacking onslaught. Fantastic carries by the forwards, and quick effective breakdowns meant the visitors could inject pace in to the game and gather momentum through good continuity. Some poor decision making from Oldfield in key moments of attack were however, very frustrating, but in the end they got the try they deserved. Some slick handling in midfield by centers Lilley and the impressive Will Owen
, set up Zak Ellis who finished well in the corner, which also went unconverted.
Thornbury came back hard for the last 10 minutes of the half and showed why they started off their league campaign so well. Eventually ex-Bristol centre Rob Higgitt spotted a gap and drew the defence, before passing out to his winger in space. He outpaced the first covering defender but was magnificently tap-tackled a meter from the line by Zak Ellis. His momentum took him over the goal line by the corner flag for the try. Referee Ian Smith was undecided whether the winger was in touch and asked the advice of the home touch judge. Neither were certain und therefore the try was correctly disallowed.
Two minutes after the disallowed try, a hurried clearing kick was run back and was eventually dotted down between the posts for the try. This was converted and at 7-10 there were no further scores, which meant at half time Oldfield retained their slender lead.
Seconds after the restart Rob Higgitt intercepted an Oldfield attack on the half way and kicked ahead. He forced the Oldfield defender to carry over and Thornbury were awarded a scrum five meters out. This eventually resulted in a converted try, which put the hosts 14-10 ahead. However, the Red Army kept their focus and four minutes later, Sean Lilley
dropped a goal for Oldfield to reduce the deficit to a single point.
The Oldfield defence continued to be well-organised and effective and when they took their turn to attack, they duly obliged as they ran the ball back down the blind side, eased through a missed tackle and it was Will Owen
who scored in the corner, which resulted in the whole team running over to celebrate. brad barnes
converted his most difficult kick of the day to restore the lead to 20-14.
The visitors then closed out the game and the final whistle went. Oldfield avenged the painful defeat they endured earlier in the season and went home with 4 well earned points. Man of the Match was new signing, Rhidian McGuire, who made a very impressive debut by controlling the game with both his communication and skill set.
The Red Army play hosts to 2nd placed Avonmouth Old Boys this Saturday, in what promises to be a spectacular game at the Fortress.
Both the players and coaches urge the supporters to make their voices heard as Oldfield prepares to continue their mission of painting 2012 RED!!
Match Report written by: Super Sub 29