Shambles in the Sun
Thornbury slipped to their fourth defeat in five games as Teignmouth ran in six tries to ensure their presence in the league next season.
Embarrassingly, Thorns arrived without their kit and played in a borrowed set of Teignmouth shirts that were threadbare and tatty. The condition of the shirts seemed to reflect the collective performance of the team that wore them during the game.
Thorns’ available playing resources were further depleted with confirmation that Alfie Richardson had suffered a broken hand and his season has come to an end. However, Harry Glew was available again and came in at fullback with Joe Jackson stepping in at scrum half for his first league game since the opening weekend. Dalton Tice started at loosehead with Adam Hodgkins joining George Maggs at lock in the continued absence of the injured James Wood. The back row remained unchanged whilst Tom Adams and Luke Workman were joined by Jon Day on the bench, JD making his first appearance in the First XV in three seasons. The injured Gareth Morgan travelled with the side and on a hot afternoon looked after player hydration.
With Thornbury hanging on to third place by their finger tips Teignmouth knew a win would secure their presence in the league for next season.
Thornbury kicked off on a blisteringly-sunny afternoon with a stiff breeze at their back but initial promise came to nothing as Teignmouth secured a turnover and burst through a weak tackle to surge up field on an irresistible counter-attack which ended with hooker Pete Parsons scoring out wide. Wing Dan Force converted from wide out for an early lead.
This was not what Thorns needed but two minutes later Joe Jackson kicked a penalty to reduce arrears to 7-3.
Thornbury controlled possession for the next ten minutes but failed to capitalise on half-chances and made handling errors. Then with thirteen minutes gone Thorns lost possession and the home outside half stepped through two woeful tackles and took play up field for fullback Faolan Lidstone to score a second try.
A Joe Jackson penalty reduced the deficit after Thornbury had made a series of promising breaks with Rob Higgitt creating space for the other backs but Thorns seemed lethargic and lacked the intensity of Teignmouth. Twice Thorns made try-saving cover tackles, then forwards and backs combined well to take play from one ‘22’ to the other but they were unable to penetrate a well-organised defence and the final pass didn’t go to hand.
Instead, the home centres burst through further weak tackles and took play to the Thornbury ‘22’ where wing Dan Luffman had just enough pace to evade a despairing cover tackle and score out wide on the stroke of half time. Teignmouth deservedly led 17-6 at the break.
Lidstone made the most of the wind at his back as he kicked the ball into the tramlines in the early stages of the second half to keep Thorns pegged back in their own half. Mysteriously, Thornbury chose to kick into the breeze where in the first half they had seemed to largely ignore the elements. All that happened was that valuable possession was given back to Teignmouth, who gratefully accepted the ball and tried to do something with it.
Eight minutes into the second half some laboured passing saw the ball bounce loose and home centre Henry Raby picked up the ball on halfway and raced in unopposed for the bonus point try. Force converted and at 24-6 the game looked lost.
This was confirmed four minutes later when the ball went loose again and flanker Luke Pattison gratefully picked up and ran around a couple of poor tackles to score again. The conversion made it 31-6.
Luke Workman came on for Dalton Tice and Tom Adams replaced Adam Hodgkins shortly afterwards, then within a few minutes Henry Conchie went off injured and Hodge came back on.
With the game won Teignmouth seemed to ease off and allowed Thornbury back into the game. After a few minutes attacking in the Teignmouth ‘22’ Sam Evans crashed over for a deserved try, but unfortunately the referee had fallen over at the time, didn’t see the grounding of the ball and awarded Thorns an attacking scrum instead. The scrum eased forward and Jack Hussey drove for the line. Although tackled he was able to reach out and ground the ball on the line for the try. The conversion didn’t threaten the posts but Thorns at least had a try to their name and although losing 31-11 had reached double figures.
Thornbury now began to play their best rugby of the match, but failed to convert several half chances into tries. The clinical finishing that was a prominent feature of their play the previous season now seemed a distant memory.
With a few minutes remaining Thornbury attacked on the Teignmouth line and forced a penalty. Joe Jackson took it quickly but was held up over the line. From the ensuing scrum Thorns again drove, tied up the back row and Jack Hussey picked up and scored in the corner. The try went unconverted.
But it was Teignmouth that had the last word. After concerted attacking on the Thornbury line lock Colin Aldworth barged over for Teignmouth’s sixth try deep into stoppage time. The missed conversion brought the final whistle and Thornbury had conceded 124 points in the last three games.
This was a dismal performance from Thornbury. They got what they deserved – nothing. Whilst individuals tried hard with Dalton Tice and Sam Evans the pick of the forwards and Rob Higgitt and Rich Bennett dangerous with the ball in hand the total of the team was considerably less than the sum of its constituent parts. Jack Hussey took his tries well and tackled aggressively but there were too many tackles missed throughout the rest of the team. The scrum and lineout functioned well but when the backline are unable to train together it is not surprising that there is little fluidity of play. But the apparent lack of intensity and, possibly, interest are the most concerning factors of the team’s performance. It is alarming how badly performances have deteriorated since the turn of the year. Another performance like this at Weston could see a defeat even more embarrassing than this one.
Thornbury travel to the league champions Weston-super-Mare next Saturday. Kick off is 3:00.
Thornbury: tries – Jack Hussey (2); penalties – Joe Jackson (2)
Teignmouth: tries – Pete Parsons, Faolan Lidstone, Dan Luffman, Henry Raby, Luke Pattison, Colin Aldworth; conversions - Dan Force (3)
Thornbury: Harry Glew; James Donohue, Rich Bennett, Rob Higgitt, Mike Beswick; Wayne Underwood, Joe Jackson; Dalton Tice, Sam Evans, George Sheldon, George Maggs, Adam Hodgkins, Henry Conchie, Liam Pemberton (c), Jack Hussey.
Replacements: Luke Workman, Tom Adams, Jon Day
Teignmouth: Faolan Lidstone; Dan Luffman, Henry Raby, Will Sowden, Dan Force; Stephen List, Kyran Rendle; Michael Clarke, Pete Parsons (c), Ben Allison, Colin Aldworth, Jack Bowen, Luke Pattison, Rob Parsons, Alex Ford.
Replacements: George Franklin, Matt Laventure, Pete Ingoldsby
Referee: Stuart Read (Devon Society)