Coming back from last weeks defeat at Eden the Vags welcomed unbeaten Thornton cleveleys to winters park in the much anticipated return fixture to which away from home the vags had gone down 31-0 with a misfit team of players out of position. Thornton has gone through the season unbeaten thus far and have already been crowned champions of division 3 north, so the vags knew from the off they were in for a hard game against a very physical and well drilled Thornton side. The conditions were good all be it a little windy as the game kicked off with Thornton in the ascendancy gaining good field position it was the all star visitors which took the lead in under 5 minutes when the ball was spread right allowing one of the Thornton outside backs to beat the cover in the race to the line, the conversion was missed however gaining the lead so early seemed to give Thornton confidence and from the kick off they were right back in the Penrith half, good defensive work by Russel Maclean, Craig Tyson and Scott Lancaster however kept them at bay and it was Penrith who started to come back into the game with some field position of their own, James Sanderson playing in the unfamiliar 10 shirt was dictating play and kept his opposite number under wraps all afternoon, good work by Steve Dixon and Nick Benson was penetrating the fringes of Thorton however a turnover ball deep in the Thornton half allowed the ball cleared and a mix up in the defence of the Vags allowed a break from the visiting centre resulting in another try outwide, the conversion again being missed taking the score to 10-0 in as many minutes. This was a shock to Penrith, however the game then became scrappy, Thorton were for some reason slowing the game down. Killing the ball at every opportunity, surely with 2 early scores they would have had the confidence to “blow Penrith away” (quote from the sideline) but it wasn’t to be, the forward pack was was working overtime, the outside backs in Craig Atkinson and notably Karl Rylands, Matty Dilane on the other wing also was making ground leaving plays in his wake every time he got a chance to run with the ball, and all of a sudden it became apparent that this Thornton team may not be all that its cracked up to be, yes it was noted that Penrith had replaced some injured bodies from a bruising local derby the week before, with players from the 2’s however most were out of position, filling shirts where needed, and a big thank you to these guys for turning out for us on the day, without them we wouldn’t have had a game.
The word at half time was to keep it simple, a few changes were made in and around the park and the second half kicked off with Penrith confident they could turn over the immortals from Thorton, James Sanderson kicked 3 points from yet another Thornton infringement, like in the first half they seemed intent on slowing the game down, maybe they thought that today would be the day when their unbeaten run would come to an end, this was boosted much more when shortly after the 3 points Karl Rylands stepped his way to the line to score near the posts, 10-8 now and game on,. Thorton were now feeling the pressure as Penrith took the game to them, good work again by R Maclean, balmer and ever reliable Scott Davidson put penrith in good field position however from a turn over ball in midfield it was Thorton who were next to score. The “man city” of division 3 north gained the ball around 20 metres out and a fine break was finished off by Thorntons star man of the day the scrum half, however again the conversion was missed still leaving Penrith in the game with hope that again they could come back and with plenty of time left that’s what they did, the vags own Daz Richardson finishing off a fine passing move outwide scoring his first try of the season. That brought the scores to 13-15 but it was Thornton who scored late to eventually break Penrith.
Fair play to Thorton they are a decent side and obviously play for each other and have that winning habbit, and we wish them well for the remainder of the season.