Call for International Rescue pays off
By Dave Fox
Ten players played their first game of the season as Thornbury triumphed over Old B's Thirds.
Thornbury 3rds finally took the field for a home fixture against Old Bristolians in a reshuffled team from their last outing, not helped by an injury to Mark Roper’s knee diagnosed during the warm up. Ten players had made themselves available for the first time this season to help the cause.
Stuart Crocombe, with commitments from 4pm, not only made himself available for the first half but also offered to hook for the first time to plug the gap in the front row. From the kick off it was clear to see that he took to the task like a duck to water. Early exchanges took place in the home 22, until the ball was turned over and quickly shipped to Ross Baker on the right wing who showed a clean pair of heels from his own half to score with his first touch of the game.
Play then seemed to duplicate itself with Old B’s returning to play in Thornbury’s 22. Another turn over saw the ball shipped wide from Mavis at fly half, this time to the left wing where Steve Allington scored a mirror image try and Thornbury had opened up an early 10 point lead.
Again, Old B’s took play back into home territory but strong defence by Bens Fowkes and Guzman in midfield kept them out. Thornbury were breaking out of their territory when the chances presented themselves and the boot of Jon Pullin cleared the lines when required. Old B’s kept up the pressure and soon got on the scoreboard with a penalty kick.
Thornbury then started to assert some territorial dominance and played a good spell of rugby in the opposition half, not allowing Old B’s to break out. The backs lead by Mavis tackled tirelessly, but one such tackle by the fly half saw him unable to get back to his feet. It was feared Mavis had snapped his hamstring but fortunately it was just his bootlace that had snapped. The back row combination of Carl Boucher and James Phillips worked very well, tirelessly tackling and turning ball over with the rest of the back ready to carry when required. The Thornbury pack were now becoming dominant in the scrum as well as in the loose. One strong drive saw the ball recycled close to the line and Stuart Crocombe was on hand to crash over for a well deserverd try. Joe Jackson added the extras in the final score of the half to give Thornbury a 17-3 advantage.
The expected reshuffle took place at half time, with Rob Tillen replacing the departing Crocombe. Tom Pullin volunteered to move to hooker so Thornbury could keep up the pressure at scrum time. Mavis was replaced by Elvis Hope and the back line too was reshuffled. The second half didn’t start well for Thornbury with Old B’s scoring a try in the opening exchanges. Tackles were missed and the Old B’s centre strolled through to score under the posts. Insult was added to injury – or injury was added to insult - as soon after Jim Pullin suffered a nasty cut to his leg and left the field to receive stitches, leaving just 2 Pullins on the pitch. Thornbury’s average age was dramatically dropped as Jim was replaced by Marcus Kibbey.
Old B’s then went into a period of dominance with their centres running well and repeatedly breaking the Thornbury line. Great defence by Ross Baker kept Old B’s out on a number of occasions, but the pressure eventually told and a second try was scored. Again Old B’s attacked and one such move saw the ball spun out to the right wing, however the final pass was aimed at Steve Allington who gratefully received the gift and was able to run in unchallenged from the half way line. Joe Jackson’s conversion, added to an earlier penalty, restored a 27-15 lead to Thornbury.
Thornbury’s pack then reasserted their dominance from the first half and were unlucky not to score with a pushover and felt robbed following a driving maul adjudged to be held up. The ensuing pile up of one such drive resulted in a leg injury to Tom Pullin. Tom left the field leaving Jon as the only surviving Pullin in the Thornbury team and bringing Jon Broughton into play. Carl Boucher became the third make shift hooker of the afternoon as play entered the final quarter. However, after 10 minutes of end to end rugby, Boucher received a heavy blow to the shoulder and left the field. For the final 10 minutes the scrums were uncontested and Bouch was replaced by Sean Goodridge. Sean became the 50th player to play for the third team this season and didn’t put a foot wrong in his 10 minute cameo.
Thornbury stole an opposition lineout deep in their own 22 and decided to try to run from deep. Whilst it looked like the post would interfere with Thornbury’s attempt to clear their lines, the Old B’s centre quickly closed the line down and intercepted the pass in the dead ball area to score a simple try. The game entered the final few minutes with Thornbury 5 points to the good and the game up for grabs.
With just minutes left Thornbury took play into Old B’s 22. The ref had a fine afternoon, but with the sun low in the sky vision became difficult. A knock on in the line out may have been missed and as the Old B’s defenders complained, Joe Jackson pounced on the loose ball and used all his pace and power to crash over for the deciding score of the match, which was converted to leave the final score at 34-22 to Thornbury.
Again, everyone contributed in a good game which saw players happy to play out of position, get involved and contribute to the team. Ross Baker put in a Man of the Match performance on his return to Thornbury colours. Mavis and Stu Crocombe put in a real shift during the first half and Joe Jackson made a difference to the team. Chris Till and Tom Pullin’s return boosted the scrum and the back row of Phillips, Boucher and Kibbey were all over the park. Thornbury’s bumps and bruises may be nursed by the healing power of available colts for their game at Cotham Park next Saturday.
Scorers: tries – Ross Baker, Steve Allington (2), Stuart Crocombe, Joe Jackson; conversions – Joe Jackson (3); penalty – Joe Jackson
Team: Chris Till, Stuart Crocombe, Tom Pullin, Craig Walters, Jon Day, Jim Pullin, Carl Boucher, James Phillips, Joe Jackson, Steve Richardson, Ross Baker, Ben Fowkes, Ben Guzman, Steve Allington, Jon Pullin. Reps: Rob Tillen, Jon Broughton, Marcus Kibbey, Elvis Hope, Sean Goodridge.
Thanks to JD for the report.