Spectacular Gibson try sees Trojans grind out Kells win
Thornhill Trojans dug deep to grind out an 18-6 win over Kells and record their first victory in the National Conference League Premier Division.
This victory was a real boost for the Trojans as they adapt to life in the top division.
The Trojans reshuffled to accommodate absent players. The line-up featured the half back paring of Joel Gibson and Matthew Tebb with Liam Morley switching to the centres.
The defining moment in this arm wrestle of a game was an 80 metre interception try from Gibson early in the second half, which seemed to dent the visitors and allowed the Trojans to press on and secure victory.
Man-of-the-match was Jake Wilson, who playing on his 30th birthday, turned on an impressive display, while there were also top performances from Ben Kendall and Casey Johnson.
Thornhill were determined not to make a slow start and avoid the problems they caused themselves against West Hull in their previous outing.
Instead they took the game to Kells and George Stott made an early raid for the line but was held up.
Thornhill continued to test the Kells defence and eventually the ball was flung at speed along the attacking line.
Stott timed his run to perfection to collect the ball and charge over for the opening try which Gibson converted.
Kells tried to fight their way back into this game and at one point David Lowery looked to have gone over for a try but, after consulting his touch judge the referee waved it away for a forward pass.
A brilliant pass from Morley picked out Sam Ratcliffe and created space for him to go hurtling down the wing.
Ratcliffe went round an attempted tackle from the full-back to score an unconverted try in the corner to put the Trojans 10-0 up at the interval.
The second half started with Kells piling on the pressure and force repeat sets but Thornhill’s defence was outstanding and kept the visitors out.
The pressure was finally relieved when Gibson intercepted a pass to race away at speed.
The chasing Kells defenders couldn’t get near Gibson as he sprinted 80 metres and score an unconverted try.
Thornhill were put on a team warning and when Wilson was penalised for striking the ball, the referee sent him to the sin-bin.
Tempers again boiled over when Ben Kendall took exception to a hand in his face.
The referee showed Kells’ Danny Dougherty a yellow card for pushing Kendall in the face but then sent off the Thornhill man for punching in retaliation.
It was while Thornhill were down to 11 men that Kells scored their only try as Ryan Watson nipped over after they had initially been held short of the line and Ross Gainford converted.
Thornhill had the final say in proceedings as Declan Tomlinson bravely charged down a kick.
Morley exchanged a pass at speed with Wilson who in turn sent Luke Haigh racing towards the posts for a try. The conversion attempt rebounded off the post but it was enough to seal victory.