Hornets' impressive comeback falls just short

PUBLISHED: 11:06 21 September 2018 | UPDATED: 11:06 21 September 2018

Ozzie James scores a try for the Hornets giving them their first points of the game
Hornets rugby v Bridgwater,

Ozzie James scores a try for the Hornets giving them their first points of the game Hornets rugby v Bridgwater, 08,9,18

(C)2016 Jeremy Long / JCLPhotography, all rights reserved

Hornets nearly overcame a 27-point deficit against Thornbury, but in the end finished two points short.

Thornbury 38 pts

Hornets 36 pts

Hornets left Thornbury with two valuable bonus points in a game they looked like they were going to lose heavily, but after an impressive comeback could have won.

The first 10 minutes saw the two teams sounding each other out in midfield and despite Hornets missing a try scoring opportunity when Joe Gadd and Charlie Carter carved through the home defence, only to lose the ball at the breakdown, it was Thornbury who opened the scoring with a penalty.

Hornets spent much of the next 10 minutes camped in the Thornbury 22, but their decision making was off and they could not convert possession into points until Steve Pape made one of many carries and this time crashed over to score. Jordan Humphris converted for a 3-7 lead.

What happened in the next 20 minutes is hard to explain and can only be described as shambolic. Numerous missed tackles, players out of position and what appeared to be a lack of fitness and ideas in the Hornets ranks saw Thornbury run in three tries and slot a penalty to pile up a 27-7 lead.

Thornbury extended their lead through a penalty early in the second half and with the score 30-7 the travelling Hornets support feared the worse.

Hornets decided it was time to re-organise, with Paul Morrisey and Ozzy James joining the action. Adam Francis moved to 10 and Danny Bailey into the centre. The result of pressing the re-set button were nothing short of astonishing.

An almost instant attack saw Pape held up over the line and Thornbury reduced to 14 men for a penalty infringement in the red zone.

Hornets opted for the scrum, and with 18-year-old Devon Frost, on debut, providing a solid base alongside veterans Dave Bird and Philip Hobbs, the ball was secured, moved one way then the other along the line enabling Gadd to score out wide. Charlie Carter slotted the conversion from the touchline and Hornets had regained momentum.

Morrisey was now involved in everything as Hornets at last found some momentum and it was he who crashed over for the next try. Carter again converting from out wide to reduce the deficit to 30-21.

Thornbury looked to strike back, but a great covering tackle from James prevented a try and Hornets ran the ball out from their own line with Courtney Harris making good ground before being dragged down.

Thornbury then conceded a series of penalties. Jack Conway kept the pace up by taking them quickly and the ball was moved through the hands to enable James to go over in the corner. Carter converted and the score was now 30-28.

A Carter penalty soon followed and Hornets took the lead and it was now Thornbury who looked shell shocked and were hanging on.

However, Thornbury were not done. First a penalty for the home side and then an unconverted try saw them regain the lead 38-31 and Hornets were again left frustrated at their defensive efforts.

With less than five minutes left Hornets surged forward again. The scrum was again secure and the ball moved wide where Gadd was on hand to score his second.

Hornets pushed forward again and with Thornbury straying offside, Hornets were awarded a penalty and the opportunity to sneak a victory. Alas it was not to be as the ball drifted just wide and as it did the final whistle sounded.

A lot will have been learnt and the players will know what they can do if they are focused to do so. The hope must be that they can put in their second half type of performance for the whole match when they travel to Cullompton on Saturday.

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