Midsomer Norton beaten by Stothert & Pitt in Somerset Premier
Stothert & Pitt 1st XV 41, Midsomer Norton 1st XV 23
Midsomer Norton 1st XV returned to action with a disappointing Tribute Somerset Premier defeat at Stothert & Pitt.
The weather has not only disrupted the fixtures but also any attempt at training in recent weeks and Norton's lack of preparation was evident as they produced their worst performance of the year against a home side who appeared to not only want the victory more, but had also learnt from the earlier loss to Norton and adapted their game plan.
Norton started playing down the slope and the early skirmishes went in their favour as three times the referee penalised the home team in kickable positions. Ben Moon converted two of the chances to open up a 6-0 lead.
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The Cranes soon came back into the game with two identical scores as Stotherts' centre intercepted a pass in the midfield to run in unopposed and then repeated the trick as he collected Steve Penny's miss pass to touch down for a converted try.
These early scores seemed to disrupt Norton out of their usual game plan and an element of panic set in as the visitors tried to spin the ball wide and played an unstructured game that played into the hands of Stotherts, who added another try to lead 19-6 at half-time.
Coach Lovell and captain Denning called for cool heads and a return to the tactics that have worked so far this season but knew that the first try of the second period would be crucial.
Despite a promising start from Norton, who enjoyed some good early territory, it was the hosts who scored next, breaking from their own 22 to allow the winger to touch down.
Norton's heads dropped and the home side were able to add further tries as Norton fell off weak tackles and allowed gaps to appear.
Norton did show a glimpse of what they are capable of in the final quarter as the forwards kept the ball in hand, picking and driving and offloading well to make valuable yards. The visitors reduced the deficit with tries from Denning, Glass and Miller but it was too late to affect the result.
On Saturday, Norton host Imperial.
Midsomer Norton 2nd XV 46, Walcot 2nd XV 3
Midsomer Norton 2nd XV started the year off in fine style on Saturday as they recorded a resounding victory over Walcot.
The win saw them complete the double over the visitors, having comfortably beaten them on their own pitch in September.
Norton took a while to get up to speed but eventually ran in eight tries, which were shared between the whole team, with backs and forwards combining well to entertain the supporters.
First to score was number eight Ben Parker when he picked and went from a dominant scrum. He still had some work to do but raced 50 metres for an excellent score.
Soon afterwards, Ben Taylor followed up his own kick ahead and, with the help of some good follow-up tackling from flanker Cameron Fenwick, he pounced on the loose ball to score Norton's second try.
Prop Will Edgell then powered over from close range and centre Grant Silk capped an impressive performance with a surging run to the line for the bonus-point score.
Captain Ian Tiley dived over from close range following an initial break from Parker to complete the first-half scoring.
The second half was more of a scrappy affair as both sides tired. Walcot had more possession but were unable to get through the resolute Norton defence.
Having ridden the storm, Norton responded with some excellent long-distance scores. The first was set up and finished by Jamie Rose, who charged upfield and was then on hand from the resulting scrum to go over for a deserved try.
A surging break from lock Tom Hillier set up the next as his dummying run gave Norton good field position and winger Aaron Ridewood raced in at the corner.
Ridewood doubled his tally soon afterwards when he sped down the right, beating a couple of defenders on his way to the line. Fly-half Taylor added three conversions to seal the win.
On Saturday, Norton visit Clevedon.
STOTHERT & PITT 41-23 MIDSOMER NORTON - IN PICTURES Photos: Stothert and Pitt v Midsomer Norton