Thorns through to cup final
THORNBURY are through to the 2019 Combination Cup Final following a passionate and gutsy semi-final triumph under floodlights at Cleve.
Thorns were by far the better side on the night but were unable to make their superiority tell on the scoreboard and went behind in a tense final few minutes, only to score a great try in stoppage time.
Cleve, in the bottom three of the league above Thornbury, looked to deploy their muscular game but Thornbury’s defence was tight and Cleve began to give away penalties, with Jake Wood kicking one in front of the posts for a well-deserved 3-0 lead.
Cleve secured possession after the restart and, after the forwards had driven several times Thorns defence was too narrow and wing Brandon Hart scored an unconverted try out wide.
Thornbury returned to attacking in the Cleve ‘22’ and twice the forwards drove over from a lineout but the referee decided the ball-carrier was held up. At the third time of asking time the touch judge convinced the referee that Thorns’ Luke Panting had scored.
Thorns led 8-5 at the break and seven minutes into the second half Dan Hussey ran hard into space, drew the cover and passed to Alfie Richardson, who used pace and great determination to go around the last defender and in for a try. The conversion didn’t quite get there, but Thorns were now 13-5 up.
After both Jake Wood and Harry Glew received yellow cards Cleve made their numeric advantage tell and went over for a try to cut the deficit to 13-10.
Thorns just had to close out the game but when Cleve responded quickest to a knock-on and charged up to the Thornbury line, a converted try put them 17-13 up.
But in stoppage time lock Tom Constable, who had celebrated his 19th birthday the day before, acrobatically stole ball at a lineout and Jake Wood then created a half yard of space for Harry Glew to come through the first line of defence, show good feet and pace to ease past two further players and touch down for an outstanding try, to make the final score 18-17.
Thornbury are now in only their second Combination Cup Final, and play Weston-super-Mare on April 25, probably at Dings Crusaders’ Shaftesbury Park.