Strong defensive display gives Broncos the platform to ease past Old Readingensians
THORNBURY battled past a strong Readingensians outfit at Rockhampton Road on Sunday to book their place in the regional final of the National Cup competition.
The home side were pushed all the way by the Berkshire-based side, but just about had enough to pull through.
The visitors arrived at the home of the Broncos as favourites, boasting an impressive winning streak. But a superb defensive display, and a collective never-say-die attitude ensured that the visitors left empty-handed, and the hosts marched on into the regional showpiece final.
Thornbury, playing up the slope in the first half, struck the first blow when Jim Drew slotted a penalty.
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The visitors responded, throwing everything into their attacks. But the Rams soon realised they would need to produce something special to breach the home side's iron curtain defence.
Centres Drew and Jack Fare gave the visitors plenty to think about, as they repeatedly cut through in midfield. But the Broncos did have a weakness – turnovers. Time- and-time again, the Rams were able to swoop in at the breakdown and steal the Thornbury ball.
The visitors claimed the opening converted try five-minutes before half-time, but crucially Drew slotted his second penalty to edge his side to within a point at the interval.
Thornbury were still vulnerable from driven line-outs, and continued to lose ball at the contact area, but, by and large, dominated the second half. Jonny Hudson, who was forced off in the first half with a shoulder injury, returned to the fray to make a real impact in both attack and defence.
The Broncos continued to turn the screw and were rewarded when prop James Lewis powered over to make it 11-7 in the home sides favour. The Rams upped their effort, but a 69th-minute penalty from Fare settled Thornbury nerves, and ultimately settled the contest.
Broncos boss Mark Bishop said: "They were a really good side, and that a great result for us.
"It wasn't pretty at times, but we're into the next round of the competition.
"We've been working at our presentation at the breakdown, which is just as well because they were really good in that area.
"But I thought our defence was fantastic, and we showed how much we wanted to win this match."
Hornets Colts blitzed neighbours Weston-super-Mare with a 62-0 away win in the third round of the Under-18s National Cup competition.
The visitors ran in ten tries, with six conversions, as they proved far too strong for Weston in a game that had to be hastily arranged following the postponement from the previous Friday night.
Hornets' speed was the telling factor in this one-sided game, and full-back Andy Wheller tormented the Weston defence with his pace and power to score a hat-trick of tries. Centre Sam Balkham also crossed for two tries.
The opening minutes saw Weston pin Hornets back in their own 22, but failed to make any headway against a resolute fringe defence. Then with Hornets first real attack, they breached the Weston defence with a rapier-like move which saw the ball passed out wide before being moved inside for Balkham to score.
It was to become a regular feature of the game as Hornets continued to use their exceptional pace to outflank their opponents.
Hornets head coach Andy Francis said it was a routine victory for his lads.
He added: "I was pleased with the way that the team kept playing right to the end.
"In games like this it is very easy for the boys to go glory-hunting, but they showed good discipline and continued to play the way that we wanted them to play.
"The result speaks for itself, but now the hard work really begins for the boys as they move out of games against local teams and in to games against regional qualifiers.
"The standard will surely rise and the boys will have to improve if they are to progress in this prestigious competition."
Also through to the qualifying stages are Frampton Cotterell Colts, who came through 50-24 against Taunton in the third round.