Ratcliffe brace sees Trojans grind out victory to remain top of table
Thornhill Trojans remain top of National Conference League Division One after an 18-4 victory over Dudley Hill last Saturday.
The game was far from a classic due to the warm temperatures in which it was played.
There was also a high penalty count as the referee looked to stamp his authority on proceedings, which made it a very stop start game, particularly in the second half when neither side gained any real momentum.
The Trojans made the perfect start with a try after just over a minute as a wonderfully orchestrated run-around created a gap and Danny Ratcliffe nipped through to score. Joel Gibson converted.
Danny Ratcliffe had another wonderful game and was central to Thornhill’s attacking play.
There was also a welcome return to the team from George Stott after serving his one match suspension.
Man-of-the-match again went to Ben Kendall, who is in impressive form and made inroads into the Dudley Hill defence with his powerful runs.
After their strong opening Thornhill suddenly had a wake up call when Dudley Hill scored a try on the last tackle. Ryan Dickinson managed to spin out of a tackle and plant the ball over the line.
The unconverted try was a good pointer for Thornhill and made them realise this wasn’t going to an easy game.
It took another wonderful try from Danny Ratcliffe to put Thornhill back on track.
The ball was flung at speed along the attacking line and Ratcliffe swiftly stepped back inside to create a gap in the Dudley Hill defence to score a try which Gibson converted.
When James Craven was sin binned for a shoulder charge the Trojans seemed to lose some momentum.
An attack from Sam Ratcliffe broke down when the Trojans substitute was the victim of a high tackle but Gibson kicked the penalty goal.
Just before half-time Thornhill were awarded another penalty, 10 metres inside their own half of the field.
In an attempt to wind down the clock Gibson had a speculative penalty goal attempt but this fell well short of the target.
There were some harsh words for the Trojans at the interval and as the second half got underway Thornhill were awarded a penalty. The ball was run and Will Gledhill went on a charging run for the corner.
Despite several Dudley Hill defenders clinging to him Gledhill managed to dive over for an unconverted try.
This score proved to be the last notable point of the game as the second half deteriorated into a very hit and miss affair but Thornhill had done enough to earn the league points.