Thornhill Trojans' comeback falls just short despite efforts of Joel Gibson

​​Once again Thornhill Trojans came within a whisker of registering their first win of the season in the Impact Performance NCL Division One when they took on Oulton.
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In a thrilling game Thornhill staged an almighty second half comeback. Trailing 28-0 early in the second half, they suddenly clicked into gear and it was only the full-time whistle that seemed to prevent them from registering an unlikely victory as they lost 28-24.

The introduction of substitutes Casey Johnson and Danny Ratcliffe certainly had a bearing on how play swung. Both gave much needed go forward and direction to the Thornhill attack, Johnson in particular running with brute force as he tried to punch holes in the Oulton defence.

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The introduction of these substitutes added to the already commendable efforts of Joel Gibson and Jake Wilson who put in herculean efforts with Gibson collecting two tries and the man of the match award.

Joel Gibson led the points scoring in Thornhill Trojans' narrow defeat to Oulton.Joel Gibson led the points scoring in Thornhill Trojans' narrow defeat to Oulton.
Joel Gibson led the points scoring in Thornhill Trojans' narrow defeat to Oulton.

The first 50 minutes were painful for the Thornhill supporters to watch as the Trojans were being dismantled in their own backyard.

Harry Kendall scored the game's opening tries, bursting clear down the middle for the first and scoring the second from a penalty as he ran onto a sublime pass. The inability of Oulton to regularly convert their tries proved to be the only thing going for the Trojans in the opening phase.

The visitors soon went over for their third try, which proved an embarrassing one for Thornhill. A high kick towards the try line saw two Trojans players collide as they went to collect, the ball bounced clear into the in-goal area and Dave Jagger pounced to score. Kiran Walpole converted.

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As play moved towards half-time Nathan Waters sold a dummy from acting-half to nip over from close range to score another try goaled by Walpole to make the score 20-0.

With Casey Johnson and Danny Ratcliffe now on the field, Thornhill gave a taste of what was to come.

Johnson put Ratcliffe away on a run and the ball was switched to Oliver Boocock. The move broke down, but it showed that Thornhill still might have something to offer in this game.

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Oulton started the second half in dominant style. After being first held up on the try line, Bailey Metcalfe forced his way over for an unconverted try.

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This was swiftly followed by another as Bailey Metcalfe ploughed over for an unconverted try in the corner.

Now trailing by 28 points, Thornhill had Casey Johnson sin-binned for a spear tackle. Now down to 12 men, what happened next was quite remarkable. The hosts suddenly came to life and took firm control.

A jinking run from Gibson saw him outpace the chasing Oulton defenders and he dashed over for a try which he converted himself.

Thornhill continued to attack and looked to have scored again, only for Joss Ratcliffe to collide with the corner flag.

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Oulton then lost the ball. Boocock snapped it up, put Ratcliffe away on a run and he in turn put Travis Lumb over for a try in the corner. Gibson converted.

Another searching run from Gibson saw him cover nearly half the length of the field and he stepped between the posts for a try he also converted.

Thornhill were now hunting victory and pressed forward to score a spectacular try. Ryan Mitchell started and finished the move when he broke down the wing and passed the ball inside.

With the try line close Joss Ratclifife produced a piece of magic to chip the ball high into the path of Mitchell who collected inside the in-goal area to score a try which possibly only Joss thought was possible. Gibson converted.

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Thornhill continued to play with urgency as Oulton desperately tried to hang onto their lead, but the referee blew for full-time to bring an end to the drama.

Thornhill: 1 Brad Llewellyn; 19 Joss Ratcliffe, 3 Richard Llewellyn, 4 Ryan Hardcastle, 5 Travis Lumb; 6 Ryan Mitchell, 7 Joel Gibson; 8 Josh Hartshorne, 9 Oliver Boocock, 10 Liam Harley, 11 Jake Hickling, 12 Jordan Ward, 13 Jake Wilson. Subs: 20 Casey Johnson, 15 Danny Ratcliffe, 21 Matt Teasdale, 17 Oliver Brown.

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