Norton visited Drybrook in the Forest of Dean for their first away game of the new season. The home side's ferocity in the opening minutes seemed to catch Norton unaware as they tried to get the journey out of their system; the visitors were 12–3 down within the first fifteen minutes.
Scrum half, Ben Moon, slotted over a penalty for Norton's first-half points. Norton now got into their stride and they started to dominate the scrummage. Unfortunately, although winning the scrums, they were unable to win clean attacking ball, struggling to come to terms with the Gloucester referee's interpretation of the offside law at the base of the scrum.
Strong runs by flanker, Joe Button, and prop, Dan Jenner, brought Norton back into the game and it started to look as if Norton would soon overhaul the home side's lead. But Drybrook's large pack were able to slow down and break up Norton's attacking moves, so although threatening for the rest of the half, they were unable to score.
The second half saw Drybrook making the most of Norton's errors in both attack and defence – Norton's normally strong defence became unorganised around the break-down, with the home side's scrum half attacking through and around the ruck. In attack, Norton lost the battle of the breakdown area, allowing Drybrook to counterattack at will. James Abbott stood strong at fullback, putting in many important tackles.
Drybrook slowly took control of the game and kept the points ticking over, using their strong driving maul and taking advantage of poor first-up tackles by the Norton defence, ending the game 31–3 winners. Norton's young side now know what to expect in the long away games in Gloucester, so there shouldn't be any surprises in the future.
Midsomer Norton 2nd XV 24 Wells 2nd XV 17
The Seconds entertained local rivals, Wells, on Saturday and deservedly earned their first win of the league campaign. After defeat last week, Norton bounced back with a much more disciplined performance and scored four tries to ensure they gained an additional bonus point.
Norton started brightly enough, but in attempting to launch an attack from within their own half, they turned the ball over and allowed the Wells winger to race over for the opening score.
Norton soon began to control territory and possession though. The pack had the upper hand at the scrum and this allowed them to camp in the Wells twenty-two. Good defence kept them at bay initially, but as Wells began to tire, Norton reaped the rewards.
Their first try came from a five metre line-out which, after some strong driving, saw number eight, Jamie Rose, power over the line. Fly half, Steve Penny, added the conversion.
Rose was on hand again shortly afterwards when he capitalised on a scrum taken against the head and surged over the line.
Norton further increased their lead following a barn-storming run from centre, Finn McDermott. The support was quickly on-hand to keep the momentum going. This allowed the pack to carry on the good work and as the ball broke free, winger, Dan Teare, pounced to race away for a well-taken try under the posts. Penny again added the conversion to put Norton 19–5 up.
The home side looked to be cruising towards half-time, but again, were guilty of making an error when running from their own half. The ball was spilled and the Wells fly half swept up the ball and fed his onrushing centre to score out wide. The visitors had somehow grabbed a lifeline back into the game and this gave them renewed hope for the second half.
The second period was a more muted affair with both sides battling away, but neither really able to control the game. Norton continued to look good in the tight and Wells had the better of the loose. It was Norton, however, who made the decisive move.
More good pressure earned them field position in the visitors' twenty-two. The front row of Darren Barnes, Tim Sheppard and Adam Wilkinson gave Norton the edge and won another ball against the head. Rose picked up at the base and charged over to complete his hat-trick.
Wells briefly threatened a comeback when they scored a good try in the corner which was excellently converted by their fly half, but it proved too little, too late. In the dying minutes, an excellent tackle from Norton winger, Chris Harper, ensured Norton earned the win their performance deserved.
The next match will see the Seconds on the road as they travel to Castle Cary.
Reports by Ian Tiley