Thatcham build a cushion
By Nick Rance
Having flirted with the relegation places in the early part of the season, this was the time for Thatcham to start to build some distance between themselves and the drop zone
This eight try victory over Dorchester was just what the doctor ordered. But the next two week’s games, the first at Frome, then at home against local rivals Grove, will be the acid test.
Conceding two early penalties, Thatcham allowed Dorchester to take the lead with the second of their goal attempts just four minutes in. But from that point to the end of the first half the home side was clinical in its domination, once again thanks in large part to the power of their forwards. A thirty yard rolling maul was only stopped deep in the visitors’ 22, recycled briefly until Louis Kanaar-Brown, this week’s Newbury Building Society man of the match, jinked over for the first of his hat trick of scores. Charlie Lutterloch comfortably converted the first of five for the afternoon. The game had barely re-started before another maul pushed deep, Tim Apperley made good yards, then skipper, Jamie Evans got to within 10 metres before a sweet offload to Dan Tingle in support for a try under the sticks. Bread and butter for Lutterloch.
Soon after, Thatcham won a scrum penalty on halfway, Tingle took a quick tap, it was taken on by James Thorogood and then to Kanaar-Brown for his second score and Lutterloch’s third conversion. With only fifteen minutes on the clock Thatcham were in the driving seat at 21 – 3 and the foot stayed on the throttle as Thatcham went further ahead after a good break from Harwood on the left wing. The ball was shifted down the line to his opposite number, Brandon Davies to get the touch down. There wasn’t much going right for Dorchester at this point and the crux of it was that Thatcham were destroying their scrum and getting a raft of penalties. Coupled with a very secure line out, Thatcham were in complete control. Dorchester picked up a yellow card and Thatcham opted for a line out, catch and drive, converted by Matt Langdon as Thatcham went into the break with a commanding 33 – 3 lead.
The second period had barely re-started before Apperley’s clean take from the top of the line saw Kanaar-Brown over for his third try and a 38 – 3 lead. But the character of the second half was changed as a result of a Dorchester front row injury just before the break. Without a replacement front row, scrums went uncontested and Dorchester were able to utilise this to advantage and move the ball wide for a good score down the left wing, converted, to pull it back to 38 – 10. Thatcham had taken their foot off and a well-placed chip ahead saw the two Thatcham defenders wrong-footed as the bounce favoured Dorchester to give a clear run through for their second try in three minutes.
At 38 – 15 the game was over as a contest, but Thatcham did enough to emphasise superiority towards the end of the third quarter, taking a quick tap penalty, Tim Apperley made ground to the red zone before putting away Jamie Evans. Lutterloch’s conversion made it 45 – 15. With confidence high throughout, Thatcham profited again as Tingle made thirty metres. Another good run from Shaughnessy at full back, via Tingle, put Jack Harwood away for the eighth try out wide. To their credit, Dorchester were still competing and gained a further score to add respectability, but with 50 points Thatcham were already out of sight.