Wednesday, March 22, 2023

Rugby: Thurrock 23 v 17 Westcliff

SUPPORTERS of both clubs witnessed a remarkable early top of the table action at Oakfield helped by the near perfect conditions. Westcliff who finished 3rd last season came to Oakfield as favourites and quickly showed why. Quick early ball kept Thurrock on the back foot and within two minutes visiting winger Jones went over in the corner, with McKeith adding the conversion from wide out. The same pattern followed as the home side struggled to get the ball and the was a very spooky and quite feeling apart from the visiting supporters in who were in full voice as Jones went over again, and McKeith converted, and when the same player added a long distance penalty Thurrock within 15 minutes found themselves 17-0.

It was situation that Thurrock had not been in for a couple of seasons, and they responded brilliantly, no doubt a lesser side would have folded and been well beaten. The defence started to make their tackles and the backs were seeing some ball as the forwards started to get amongst them. Offside at the ruck gave Thurrock their first scoring opportunity and Aaron Burns stepped up and kicked a well taken penalty. Thurrock now looked the most likely and was denied a certain try when a deliberate knock-on was deemed not and only a scrum awarded, however from the scrum after 3 or 4 phases, Ian Rudgely jinked over to score wide out, and Burns composure added the conversion to cut the deficit to 7 points at the break.

The Thurrock faithful and 100+ vice presidents urged their team on, and early in the second half Burns added another penalty chance to peg it back to 13-17. The momentum was now with Thurrock, a double replacement saw Andy Eaton and Earl Gorman come on for Aaron Burns and Ben Madden and within minutes of coming on, Gorman sent everyone ecstatic when he burst through the defence to score to put Thurrock ahead for the first time in the match. Thurrock were now brimming with confidence and the forwards and backs putting Westcliff under pressure, and from a five yard scrum, No8 Bradleigh Rettigan picked from the base, although he was stopped short, he placed the ball back for James Flavin to dive over, again the conversion went just wide. Westcliff still had a few minutes to chase the game but Thurrock stood firm to go to the top of the table.

TEAM: Worster, Farrell, Stanley, Madden (Gorman 60) Porter, Rudgely (Keefe 78) Burns (Eaton 60) North, Carey, Rate, Flavin, Banks, Batho, Crowhurst, Rettigan.

This week, Thurrock travel to RUISLIP Kick Off is 3.00 pm, and the coach leaves at


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