Monday, March 27, 2023

Rugby: Breaks just not happening for Thurrock

Bishops Stortford 30 v 10 Thurrock

EARLY Thurrock started the game well against 3rd place Stortford but had little to show for their early dominance and territory, but it was the home side whom were first to score when right wing, Wayne Child, who cut in to take good ball set up by simple passing from the back of a scrum, starting with number 8, Mark McCraith and taken on by scrumhalf, Sam Coleman and fullback Sam Winter to allow the winger to touch down close to the opposition posts, the conversion wide.

Coleman however did much better 11 minutes later to kick a penalty and take his side 8 points ahead, following a Thurrock offence at a breakdown. There followed a fairly scrappy period of play and, although the home side continued to have the upper hand, neither side really threatened to score for the next 25 minutes. Thirty seven minutes into the game, though the flyhalf proved that he was fully fit again, as he broke to the left off good forwards’ possession to feed Jono Child and then take a return pass, after the centre had made significant ground down the wing, to run in from some thirty metres out for a try, which he had no difficulty in converting from close to the posts.

Thurrock showed their resilience by forcing the home side briefly back into their own half and fullback, Frankie Neale made no mistake with a penalty shot at goal, when Stortford were penalised for failing to release at a tackle. Stortford quickly went back onto the attack, though and the cumulative effect of their dominance of possession through the half forced one too many penalties out of the visitors’ defence and, with only seconds of the half remaining, their centre, Lewis Pruce received a yellow card for yet another team offence at a breakdown. With no time left to go for touch, Tom Coleman went for goal from the halfway line but his kick drifted narrowly to the right of the posts to make the score 15-3 to the home side at the break.

Stortford again enjoyed the better of the early exchanges with Thurrock down to 14 men the second half and, after 8 minutes Tom Coleman took full advantage of a long pass from replacement scrumhalf, Sam Whiffen to throw a pinpoint flat pass to Winter, bursting into the line between a myriad of decoy runs from the rest of the three quarters to totally split the Thurrock defence and run in a try under the posts from some 30 metres out. The routine conversion by Coleman took the score to 22-3, but any thoughts that home supporters might have harboured that the game was already won were soon dispelled, as a brilliant chip kick and recovery of the ball by Thurrock’s
Mike Stanley well within the Stortford 22 saw him touchdown under the posts and Neale’s conversion narrowed the gap to only 12 points.

Another period of exchanges in centrefield with neither side really threatening to score followed and the next score, almost inevitably was another penalty to Coleman, as Thurrock were penalised for an offside offence at a ruck after 25 minutes of the half. Stortford lifted their game again and only some tremendous last ditch defence from the visitors prevented another try, as the home pack pounded at their line, through a series of driving mauls and two 5 metre scrums taken in lieu of penalties, as Thurrock resorted to desperate measures to hold the opposition out.

Eventually, though, despite having incurred another team yellow card after 35 minutes to their left wing, the visitors managed to force a legitimate turnover right on their line and fought their way back into the Stortford half. At this stage it was looking as if the home side’s efforts to secure a fourth, bonus point try were going to be frustrated but, as injury time was entered, an adventurous chip kick by Coleman from inside his own 22 was skilfully fielded by winger Jimmy Rea and two quick passes found Winter in space out wide with some 50 metres to the line. His considerable speed was not quite enough to take him clear of the covering defence, but he was able, through a combination of a change of pace and a dummied inside pass to find enough room to crash over in the corner for a worthy match winning score. Coleman’s conversion attempt went narrowly wide to leave the final score at 30-10.

However Thurrock’s performance belied their current lowly league position and can take many positives from the game.

TEAM: Neale, Farrell, Pruce, Stanley, Gorman, Burcham, Cook, North ,Durrance, Bevans-Royston, Flavin, M.Thomas, Cooper-Hicks, Russo, Kellard,

Rep; Yeomans, Rudgeley, Kettleton

This Saturday Thurrock welcome WESTCLIFF TO Oakfield the game will kick off at


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