Woodbridge Warriors 21 v Thurston 0
A good start from the visitors saw them quickly up to the home 22 only to concede a penalty from a well-executed Woodbridge scrum. Both fly halfs then kicked for territory – Thurston’s Alex Lee against JP Hart who found touch for Dan Bond to win the line out and set flanker Nick Woodley off for the first of many gallops down field. Supported by the stocky, powerful Tony Moseley the Warriors breached Thurston’s 22 where scrum half Adam Plummer passed wide to No 8 Ed Berridge who scored at 10 minutes to the delight of the home crowd.
Berridge, clearly motivated by the score, featured immediately at the restart, carrying from the scrum to renew the attack only for poor hands to concede a scrum from which Lee grubbed long into the home 22 where winger George Cawston took up the charge. Woodbridge scrambled back to defend as Thurston full back Jason Post continued to press and forced an offside penalty. The resulting line out renewed the pressure, Thurston attacking all along the home try line, Rich Pearson and his front row winning penalties and making the Warriors sweat to keep them out. Eventually an interception started a counter attack up to halfway, David Price much in evidence, where play remained with both sides kicking to force the error. Another good scrum from Woodbridge gave them sound possession and the ball moved quickly out despite rapid Thurston line speed and first rate counter-rucking. A penalty for holding on reset the Warrior forwards to assault the Thurston goal line several times before the beacon of leadership; Captain Tom Stokes broke it to score the second try on the half hour.
Thurston put in another concerted attack from the off which the hosts survived through another interception by wing Taff Lloyd. Both sides missed touch kicks and ran from deep, Moseley putting in an excellent charge for Woodbridge before the break.
Thurston failed to consolidate an early opportunity on the Warrior’s 5m after a handling error allowed Woodbridge to launch a few runs from midfield although moves on both wings were thwarted by poor passing or forward passes. Thurston’s forwards were their preferred weapon and they carried well; back row Fraser, James and Paxman picking and driving to draw in defenders and win penalties. Second row Rich Pearson worked hard with his pack as Thurston had a prolonged period camping on the Woodbridge try line where it seemed astounding that they didn’t score despite a 5m scrum. Determined defence eventually gave the Warriors a clearance kick upfield where Berridge put in a commanding run for prop Ritchie Clark to score against the run of play.
Thurston maintained the pressure from the restart, centre Harvey Taylor looking dangerous as both sides started to kick, Thurston particularly preferring to keep it in their forwards or kick rather than stretch their backs. The Warriors seemed to have the upper hand. Hart kept the aerial pressure on and benefitted from three knock-ons giving field position to his scrum. There was nearly a debut try for Warrior winger Lewis Jacobs and another inventive grub kick chase from Hart and Woodley. Thurston Hooker Matt Ansell made 20 metres with a jinking, unopposed midfield carry into the hosts 22 backed up by his pack and Woodbridge were forced to defend again. Reliable Hart cleared up field and the game ended with Tim Johnson and Simon Codd leading the forwards for one last attempt for the bonus point which Thurston resisted up to the whistle. The match was a good season opener for the Warriors although the score-line hides a strong performance from Thurston.