Rampant return to Norton Down
By Somerset Guardian | Thursday, March 08, 2012, 11:00
Mid Norton 1st XV 40 Tor 1st XV 5
Midsomer Norton marked their first home outing since January 21 with a convincing win.
It was good entertainment for the large crowd, which included local councillors as well as Somer Valley FM presenter Ian Nockolds, who commentated on the game for the station's weekly sports show.
Big carries from second rows Ben Parker and Jamie Gimson saw Norton camped on the visitors' tryline early on, leading to flanker Joe Button running in the first score.
Norton took possession from the restart and tested the Tor defence again. The ball was lost but Button charged down an attempted clearance kick and skipper Matthew Denning scooped up the ball and placed it over the line for Norton's second try.
The home backs then stretched the Tor defence, with Rob Fuller and Ross Miller taking play into the visitors' 22. Denning found just enough space to ground the ball over the line for his second try but he was injured in doing so and had to be replaced by David Sawkins.
Tor looked dangerous for the first time during the closing stages of the opening half but stout defence kept them away from the tryline. The visitors maintained the pressure after the break and eventually managed to score in the corner.
This served as a wake-up call for Norton and, following encouraging words from pack leader Gimson and Adam Sinden, who had taken over the captaincy, they picked up their game.
Norton won a lineout just outside Tor's 22-metre line and mauled the ball all the way to the tryline, where Sawkins had the easy job of putting the ball down. As Norton took full control, Gimson and Ciaran Moore touched down tries, while scrum-half Ben Moon made five out of six conversion kicks.
On Saturday, fifth-placed Norton visit Chew Valley, who are two spots above them in the table.
Clevedon 2nd XV 12 Mid Norton 2nd XV 27
Norton seconds stamped their progress with a hard-fought away win over opponents who had given them a sound beating earlier in the season.
The cornerstone of the victory was an excellent show from the forwards, who more than held their own against a heavyweight Clevedon pack. This allowed the Norton backs to prosper in the open spaces and play some fluent rugby.
Hooker Dan Backhurst typified the Norton effort as he punched well above his weight with an all-action performance. The back row were equally impressive, with Matt Edgell his usual abrasive self, number eight Steve Dunster making a number of important tackles and Jamie Rose displaying an improving work-rate.
Full-back Steve Penny began the scoring with a penalty after good work by the backs. Norton then drove close to the Clevedon tryline and although the hosts managed to steal the ball, Rose charged down the clearance kick and dived on the loose ball to score. Penny converted.
Moments later, Rose sprinted clear through the middle before passing the ball to centre Jamie Verden, who outpaced the cover defence to score. Penny converted and also booted another penalty on the stroke of half-time.
Strong running by the Clevedon number eight caused Norton problems at the start of the second half, with two tries in quick succession putting the home team back in touch.
Norton regrouped and surged back into the lead. The ball was swept to fly-half Ben Taylor, who stepped inside his man and fed the onrushing James Abbott for a fine try. Penny again converted to clinch an important league win for the visitors.
Oldfield 3rd XV 36 Mid Norton 3rd XV 7
Norton thirds finished well beaten at Oldfield, despite scoring the game's opening try.
Good rucking and mauling put early pressure on the Bath side, allowing winger Dave Watts to cross the line, with the conversion being added by Danny Dyer.
However, this was as good as it got for Norton as Oldfield went on to dominate. It wasn't until the closing stages that Norton enjoyed another good spell of possession but a lack of support was typical of the side's performance and saw their attacks come to nothing.
With the forwards outplayed, Nathan Morgan did well to impress for Norton, who entertain St Bernardette's next week.