Outstanding performance from youngsters in cup defeat

November 24 2017
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By Dave Fox Thornbury lost their Combination Cup quarter final but gave cup holders Clifton a fright. With over half the starting side still in their teens Thornbury paid no respect to the reputation of their opponents from two leagues above and hassled and harried Clifton throughout.

Thornbury’s coaches took the opportunity to rest players carrying injuries and blood those who had shown potential in Development and Second XV games. 

Eighteen-year olds Josh Panting and Jake Wood were at fullback and outside half respectively, with twenty-two year old Harry Glew at scrum half and twenty-three year old James Donohue on the wing. 

Josh Panting made his first start for the first team while Will Cullimore made his first team debut at centre as did Kieran Wilson, who turned eighteen just a couple of weeks before, at loosehead prop. The two flankers were seventeen, with Harry Eatock making his first start alongside Jake Goodridge. Jak Evans was chosen at No.8. 

The Clifton side included five regular first team players plus a further five who had played for the Firsts in league matches this season. Their back row included former Thornbury player Chris Rovery.

Heavy overnight rain had made the pitch particularly wet and further rain threatened as heavy, low clouds restricted the amount of light available. 

Thornbury drew first blood, Louis Ogilvie taking the ball on the touchline, cutting infield and then deftly chipping the ball behind the defence.  He got to the ball first and put Jake Wood in to score close to the posts. Jake converted the try for a perfect start for Thornbury.

Clifton pulled themselves back onto level terms after skipper Sam Harrison broke through a tackle in midfield and had the pace to run in and score out wide.

The heavens opened and it began to pour early in the second quarter. Clifton took the lead when lock Francesco Albasini ran in for the try. Harrison converted then five minutes later added the extras to a try from wing Alex Hall as the defence had become too narrow.

Thornbury started the second half well, attacking from the kick off. Louis Ogilvie charged down the right then the ball was taken on by Jak Evans, who tied in several defenders with a powerful run. The ball went right where Josh Panting stepped inside and got over the gain line before Sam Evans charged for the line. The ball was quickly recycled and good crisp passing from Jake Wood to Harry Tarling and then Jake Goodridge put Jak Evans clear to score in the corner to leave Thornbury trailing 21-14.

The next twenty minutes was all Thornbury as they launched attack after attack but Clifton’s defence remained intact. On the hour mark Thorns were awarded a penalty which Jake Wood slotted over for 21-17.

However a kick behind the Thornbury defence bounced into the arms of wing Edgar Odum and he ran in for a simple try. Harrison converted to extend Clifton’s lead to 28-17.

With time running out the contest was put beyond doubt when fullback Bentley Halpin joined the line at a fine angle and raced in for an unconverted try. But Thornbury had the last word when Sam Poustie intercepted on halfway and won the race to the line for the final score. Jake Wood converted to make it 33-24.