to give them a much needed five point boost and shift them off the bottom of the table above fellow slow starters North Dorset.
The home side were back up to full strength in the front five and the return of skipper, Louis Kanaar-Brown to his open side flanker role allowed Thatcham to boss the visitors’ pack for much of the afternoon. This was a more gutsy performance from Thatcham and just what they needed after a challenging start to the league season, and with difficult fixtures against Swanage & Wareham and Swindon coming up later in the month.
Utility man Nick Rance always does what’s asked of him, this week putting in a more than workmanlike shift at 9, with dependable Danny Shaughnessy at 10 and there was a look of resilience and pace in the back line with Nathan Kanaar-Brown, this week’s man of the match and Callum Stewart in the centres. Reuben Pretorious showed once again that his intelligent defence and pace from deep will be a critical factor this season.
Thatcham took first blood after fifteen minutes with the pack taking the credit for working up to the visitors’ line, prop Thorogood's quick thinking spotted the opportunity to touch down after a period of sustained pressure on the visitors. Callum Stewart took over kicking duties this week and narrowly missed the extra points. But the visitors were back on terms within five minutes and it was only a Stewart penalty that separated the teams at half time, with Thatcham going into the break leading 8 – 5.
The home side were dominating the scrum and a strong finish to the first half from Thatcham augured well for the second period, but it was North Dorset who mounted the early pressure. Thatcham conceded several penalties, culminating in a yellow for Thorogood, then George Seymour took a knock, replaced by Graham Armstrong. A sustained offensive from North Dorset followed and although Thatcham defended well they struggled to get into opposition territory for a long stretch. North Dorset appeared to get the touch down, but were adjudged by the official to have failed to ground the ball. The visitors crossed the line again but were held up and somehow the home side survived with the only reward for Dorset a penalty to even the scores to 8 all as the game entered the last quarter.
The Thatcham pack had continued to push North Dorset back and a front row injury forced uncontested scrums so the visitors lost a man. Thatcham might have lost the advantage going uncontested, but responded positively. Winning a lineout on the 22 the catch and drive took them up to 5 metres and two penalty infringements later, Louis Kanaar-Brown got the try with Callum Stewart adding the extras. Forging ahead to 15 – 8 Thatcham didn’t let up and winger Sean Richardson looked to have scored after a clever chip ahead from Shaughnessy, but was judged to have blocked an opponent and it was disallowed.
As the clock ticked down Thatcham resumed the onslaught with a charge from Dave Chambers, offloading to Danny Shaughnessy to put Nathan Kanaar-Brown away for the third try and another fine conversion from out wide from Stewart. By now North Dorset were reeling but the final whistle was moments away. Still time for Thatcham to kick deep into the corner. The ball was lost but a Dorset high tackle saw the visitors reduced to 13 men. Thatcham took the lineout on 5 metres, Smith secured it off the top and the drive took Thorogood over for the try, with Stewart again slotting home the kick.
Next week is a free weekend so time for a bit of RnR as Thatcham prepare for the trip to Swanage and Wareham on 19 October.
1. Matt Leybourne; 2. James Thorogood; 3. Dave Chambers; 4. George Seymour (Graham Armstrong); 5. Rich Browne; 6. Charlie Rayner; 7. Louis Kanaar-Brown; 8. Mark Smith; 9. Nick Rance; 10. Danny Shaughnessy; 11. Collum O’Sullivan; 12. Nathan Kanaar-Brown; 13. Callum Stewart; 14. Sean Richardson; 15. Reuben Pretorius.
Replacement: David Hamilton
Tries: Louis Kanaar-Brown; Nathan Kanaar-Brown; Thorogood (2)
Conversions: Stewart (3)