BONUS POINT WIN
By Kevin Hymas
WORSTER ROLLS BACK THE YEARS
Thurrock welcomed Southampton based Tottonians to Oakfield and it was the visitors who started the game the better with most of the play for the first ten minutes, but stout defence and poor handling assisted the home side to deny a couple of scoring chances. Thurrock came back into the game, when Charlie Russo made a break and offloaded after making the visitors twenty-two. After a couple of phases, the ball was spun out wide for Darryl Worster to score wide out, with Sam Stanley just falling short with the conversion. The visitors again came back with some sustained pressure inside Thurrock’s half. Eventually Thurrock were offside in front of the sticks, and Robbie Searle slotted the penalty for the visitors for a score of 5-3 after twenty-three minutes.
Direct from the restart a knock on from Tottonians gave Thurrock a great chance and from the resulting scrum they got their rewards. A trademark miss pass from Sam Stanley put Dan Stone into space and he timed the inside pass perfectly for that man, Worster to grab his second try of the game. This time Stanley was successful with the conversion to stretch the lead to 12-3. A penalty from the visiting 10 Robbie Searle on the stroke of half time meant the score at the break was 12-6
Thurrock were forced into a reshuffle at half time with Captain Reece Durrance returning in place of Ryan Wilkins as well as Niall Clifford, making his 1st appearance since October replacing Jake Bedding. This forced Dylan Fearon to step in at scrum half and he had a lively 2nd half. Thurrock dominated the early exchanges of the 2nd half and began to gain an advantage in the scrum. After sixty minutes Tottonians were penalised for standing up in the scrum ten metres from their own line. Thurrock opted to scrum again and after two pick and go’s, Dylan Fearon went over for their third try. Stanley made no mistake with the extras to extend the lead to 19-6.
The visitors came back strongly, and despite being down to 14 men following a yellow card for punching, they gained a line out fifteen metres out. Rogers came into the line to slice through the cover and score under the posts. Searle converted to reduce the deficit again to 19-13.
Thurrock came back straight from the kick off and launched a sweeping move as Tom Pool sliced through the visitors to offload to the supporting Charlie Russo. The pass was slightly behind him but he tapped it back for Dan Carey to offload to speedster Dan Stone to score his 12th try of the season as well as securing the bonus point for Tees. Stanley once again converted from in front of the posts.
Sometimes Thurrock never make things easy for themselves, giving away four penalties in their own twenty-two. Each one of which was run by the visitors. After the fourth penalty, Thurrock’s Tom Wileman was yellow carded and the home side played the last 5 minutes with 14 men.
Tottonians continued to run the ball at every opportunity but were repelled by some great tackling from the likes of Jake Barrand & Brad Retigan. From one such hit by Barrand, Thurrock were able to turn the ball over and looked to close out the game. Unfortunately, as they moved the ball from the breakdown they gifted another try to Tottonians as Searle intercepted and ran in under the posts, converting the try himself to narrow the score to 26-20 with two minutes remaining.
The visitors tried desperately from the kick-off to attack from deep and sneak a win but Thurrocks defence held firm and they secured the Bonus point win and also their 5th victory in a row to see them cement their place in 5th in London 1 South.
Next week Tees travel away to 3rd placed Medway looking to avenge the 20-10 defeat they suffered at the beginning of the season, their only one at Oakfield this campaign. This will be a big test for this ever improving Thurrock team, but a challenge that they will be more than up for