Monday, March 20, 2023

Rugby: T-Birds valiant battle against Bristol

Thurrock T-Birds 5 v 15 Bristol

ON a bitterly cold day with a stiff Northerly breeze freezing the fingers, the T-Birds resumed their Premiership campaign by welcoming Bristol for their first ever visit to Oakfield.

In this hard fought encounter, T’s picked up their first ever Premier League point in a narrow loss, but were left feeling that this could and perhaps should have been their first win.

With the wind behind them, Bristol started strongly as expected and Thurrock barely put a hand on the ball for the first 30 minutes. Bristol quickly set up camp in T’s 22 and strong forward play created space out wide for Wilson-Harding to go over in the corner in only 6 minutes.

With Prop Acheson making strong runs and England No 8 Packer creating havoc at the scrum and breakdown things started to look bad for Ts. Bristol were held up over the line and then Acheson claimed their second, all in the same corner to leave Ts 0-10 down with 20 minutes on the clock.

Ts now knew that they had to perform to a totally different level at home or face a repeat of the heavy loss at Bristol and buoyed by the return from injury of their talismanic Captain, Foy, lifted their game.

Finally claiming some possession and with the crowd roaring them on, they fought their way out of their own 22 and began some progress up the pitch.

Bristol‘s only recourse was to be offside or off their feet at almost every breakdown and the Referee quickly brandished a Yellow to Davies.

Ts now took full advantage and attacked relentlessly. With the backs carrying well and cutting good lines, the forwards finished off a fine period of play with a drive over the line for Jo Convoy.

Despite strong Bristol pressure from the restart, Ts held on to turn around at 5-10 down with it all to play for.

The Scrums were evenly balanced with both teams 8 man drive disrupting the others ball, but Ts were dominant it the lineout and now with the benefit of the wind, Thurrock’s Emily Scott kicked well for territory with a good chance of regaining the ball.

Both teams attacked and defended well for 20 minutes until a kick from Scott failed to find touch and Molesworth, collecting the ball in acres of space broke stranded Full Back Emerson’s despairing tackle to get over in the corner for 5-15.

With the clock ticking and the game slipping away Thurrock threw themselves at Bristol desperately seeking a score

Now getting the nudge in the scrum, Thurrock took a ball against the head and played multi phase rugby from forwards and backs to set themselves up in the corner of the pitch. With Bristol again constantly infringing, a series of penalties led to Thurrock driving over the line and despite Jo Convoy lying on top of the ball, the referee deemed it “held up”. This was a real turning point for a tired Thurrock and a score at that time might well have led to different result.

The last 10 minutes were all Thurrock, but despite another Yellow, this time for Packer, Bristol defended heroically. Time and again Thurrock were hauled down only a yard or two short and the score just would not come.

The losing bonus point was a very welcome consolation and demonstrates the vast improvement for a team that looked “caught in the headlights” earlier n the season.

Players of the match for Thurrock were India Harvey for the Backs and Jo Convoy for the Forwards.

The T-Birds host second in the league Richmond at Oakfield next week 20th January. There is a pre-match lunch at 12 for £25 a head, ring the Club on 01375 374877 to book.


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