It was the Templars first game in some weeks due to the fixture schedule generously handing the team a quiet festive period; that generosity was obviously still on offer when the top of the league hosts went 12 - 0 up in the first ten minutes. Sloppy defence on the sides of rucks combined with weak tackling in the centres allowed the impressive opposition 7 to first score and then set up a second try, one of which was converted.
The Templars travelled with a strong squad of 21 which was needed as, after a robust showing in the front row and some impressive scrimmaging, hooker Ashley Meade went off with an eye injury on 20 minutes whose role was filled by Charlie Cooper who has just become a father for the first time to baby Jacob.
Templars rallied at this stage and had a very good last 15 minutes to the first half. A speculative kick from fly half Ed Merry was gathered in the opposition 22 following hesitation from the hosts full back. Ryan Rainer set up a ruck which was spun out to the backs via Matt Harwood and Richard Hickox; Ed Pawsey set up a ruck on the 5m line taken further forward by man of the match Seb Wehmeyer. A quick tap penalty, for slowing the ball down, allowed the returning scrum half Jack Bekinsale to whip the ball to the backs where Brett Ballard received a fortunate deflected pass (off the head of Pawsey) and dived over the line to score for the Templars. Ballard converted his own try to make it 12-7.
With 5 minutes left of the half full back Nik McKean managed to fell the opposing no. 7 to stop a certain try after a break on the half way line only for Templars to give away a penalty which was quickly taken and the Thurston backs ran in a try to make it 17-7.
Templars had one good chance to score just at the death of the first half after a good run and kick ahead from Ballard was picked up by Wehmeyer and continued by Pawsey and Josh Beckinsale only for a last ditch tackle which forced the ball into touch. A quick throw in was attempted by the lively winger Hickox but he was thwarted by a lack of coordinated footwork.
The second half was a close affair with both teams threatening the opposition line on numerous occasions Merry and Harwood made telling breaks only to be thwarted by last ditch tackling. Rupert Dando was introduced at scrum half where he and evergreen no.8 Phil Foster combined to make a few surging runs off the settled scrum. Veteran prop Craig Trevain had to leave the field due to a head injury on 65 mins and as a result the scrums became uncontested which suited the hosts more as the Templars had the dominant scrum. Debutant Phil Robinson entered the fray on the wing and Beckinsale, who had already moved from scrum half, switched to flank for the remainder of the game.
The opposition had one more score in the game following some impressive breaks and controlled mauls which couldn’t be stopped by the tiring Templars defence making the score 22-7.
Fly half Merry made a searing 60 yard break from his own 22 yard line only to be thwarted illegally resulting in a penalty which was converted by Ballard to make the final score 22-10.
Lesser teams would have and have been steamrolled by a quality Thurston team who play hard but fair. Coach Arundell and Team manager Stubbs were delighted with the efforts of the team and will hopefully take a similar squad to Clacton on Saturday for their league match with the Kestrels who sit only 3 points behind the Templars who lie in 5th. The Templars have won the last three meetings between the two sides racking up 125 points and only conceding 40, but if the Clacton pack have their tails up and both Meadeand Trevain are ruled out of the fixture, this could be a considerably closer game.
A reminder that training is at the Priory Hall Pitch, adjacent the cemetery on Wednesdays from 7pm where all are welcome to attend as you will get a warm welcome from the squad and coaches.