Norton made to work hard to keep up perfect record
By Somerset Guardian | Thursday, November 08, 2012, 11:00
Tor 1st XV 7 Mid Norton 1st XV 24
Saturday's trip to Tor proved to be a much sterner test than the league table suggested but Midsomer Norton 1st XV still claimed a ninth successive bonus-point victory.
On paper it looked like a straightforward task against a home side struggling at the wrong end of Tribute Somerset Premier and, although Norton were missing a couple of regulars, they started the game at pace.
Camped in the Tor 22 for much of the opening quarter, Norton pressure resulted in a penalty and scrum-half Ben Moon took it quickly, only to be halted by a home lock who had not retreated ten yards.
That resulted in a yellow card and Norton made the extra man count as centre Robbie Fuller powered over from close range after good work from the pack. This was his last involvement, however, as he was injured in the process and replaced by Richard Martin.
Moon added the conversion and Norton continued to dominate territory but came up short of the tryline. When Tor were back to their full complement, they showed the spirit and commitment needed to get back in the game, particularly when they spun the ball away from the forwards.
However, the referee again played a key part in Norton's resurgence as he sin-binned another Tor player for a deliberate knock-on. The visitors upped the pressure and captain Matthew Denning went over at the back of a maul.
Tor prevented any further scores and began to get themselves back into the game when they were restored to 15 men. They competed well at the breakdown, used the pick-and- go well at rucks and had some good open-field runners.
The hosts' blindside flanker burrowed through a ruck and broke clear for a converted try and only excellent cover tackling from Ross Miller and Henry Hunter kept Norton ahead at half-time.
Although Norton could count themselves unlucky not to have scored more tries, coach Tom Lovell demanded an increase in the pace. However, the second period remained keenly contested as Tor refused to give up and gave Norton one of their toughest tests of the season.
Led by the excellent Dayne Swift and Dan Jenner, Norton dug deep and went back to the forwards, keeping the ball in hand and offloading to make inroads.
This eventually told when Denning was on hand to loop round the back-line and hand off the covering tackle before diving in. Moon added the conversion.
Norton went in search of the crucial fourth try and it arrived when Steve Penny offloaded to Leo Glass, who made inroads deep in the 22. The ball was recycled and full-back Miller hit a fantastic line to take a pop pass from David Sawkins before breaking numerous tackles to score.
The rest of the game was played at a frantic pace and several chances were created as both sides began to tire but no further scores were added.
Mid Norton 2nd XV 21 Wellington 2nd XV 22
Midsomer Norton 2nd XV just missed out on victory in an entertaining clash against their Wellington counterparts.
At the end of an evenly-contested game in which both sides played some good rugby, Norton had the chance to win it with the last kick of the match but a penalty attempt drifted inches wide.
Tom Snelling capped an excellent game with two well- taken tries. The first came after good work from the forwards, with the ball swept wide for the winger to outpace his man to score in the corner. Fly-half Ben Taylor added an impressive conversion.
The visitors responded by capitalising on Norton errors to score two quick tries but the hosts hit back when a long pass from captain Ian Tiley allowed Snelling to claim his second of the day. Again Taylor converted from the touchline.
The visitors added a further score before hooker Gareth Williams powered his way over in the corner for Norton and Taylor completed a hat-trick of difficult conversions.
The hosts looked to be in control at half-time but Wellington kept plugging away and scored soon after the break to get within a single score.
Norton dominated for long periods of the second half but were unable to cross for a bonus-point score which could also have clinched the win. Their failure to turn pressure into points came back to haunt them in the closing stages as a well-worked try and touchline conversion gave Wellington a narrow lead eight minutes from time.
Norton laid siege to the visitors' line but were stopped illegally, with Wellington lucky to escape a sin-binning.
With time running out, the hosts opted for a kick at goal but the ball drifted agonisingly wide.
In Somerset 3 North, Midsomer Norton 4th XV were beaten 33-0 at Imperial 2nd XV.