1st Team Match Reports
2018 -2019 Season
Promotion Play Off
Midsomer Norton 15 v Crediton 19
27th April 2019
Crediton gained promotion to South West 1 West after holding out in the last seconds of their playoff with Midsomer Norton on an extremely windy afternoon at Norton Down. The wind was as strong as anybody can remember, making passing into it almost impossible and resulted in a war of attrition for the majority of the game.
Despite the conditions, both teams can be proud of the rugby played with 100% commitment in defence and at the breakdown by all involved. Midsomer Norton started strongly down the slope and scored two tries through Sam Knight and Jamie Rose but Crediton managed a driving maul try of their own before a superb conversion using the wind to make the score 12 7.
Crediton had the advantage of the elements in the second period. Midsomer Norton carried well and stuck to their defensive task heroically but could not prevent Crediton from taking a decisive lead with only a few minutes left on the clock. There was still time for more drama as, in the last play of the game, Midsomer Norton were adjudged to have knocked on whilst driving over the line from a 5 meter scrum. A total of three disallowed tries during the game highlights just how close it was.
Hugh Jeffery out-did himself with the worst pun of the year so far on Twitter saying “crediton where crediton’s due” but this was fitting as the opposition showed tremendous heart and determination especially in defence where they refused to be beaten.
It’s been a great season and everyone is looking forward to resting up for a week until they embark upon a tour to Brighton next weekend!
Chipping Sodbury 26 - Midsomer Norton 31
13th April 2019
Midsomer Norton claimed a very late bonus point win away to Chipping Sodbury, despite letting the home team build a healthy lead in the first half.
Chipping Sodbury started very brightly as they looked to spread the ball to the wide channels. After just a few minutes they took the lead, the Sodbury winger sprinted over to collect the first points of the afternoon.
Norton struggled to get into the game, arguably somewhat a little off the pace following a tough mid week cup match at Keynsham. Chipping Sodbury went on to score another 3 unanswered tries taking it to 26-0 with 30 minutes played.
Having been starved of the ball for long periods of the first half, Norton finally began to play some rugby in the right areas. Just before half time, full back Luke Murphy got Norton off the mark to give his side some confidence to go into the break. 26-7
This confidence helped Nor massively. Although the lineout wasn’t fully functioning, Norton’s scrum dominated its opposition. After a series of attacking scrums close to the try line, number 8, Joe Button, touched down as the visitors pack drove over.
Chipping Sodbury were then under immense pressure for the remainder of the game. Norton clinched a walkover penalty try from another scrum, due to bullying from the colossal front row of Edgell, Mitch Rose and Jenner.
This put the scores at 26-24 in favour of Chipping Sodbury going into the final minutes. Norton held on to the ball and began their hunt for the try line. After being awarded consecutive penalty’s Norton opted for a scrum just 5 metres out and inevitably the away pack drove over again, Joe Button collecting his 2nd try, to win the game and more importantly secured a home play off match for his side.
The play off match will be held at Norton Down on Saturday 27th April against Devon side Crediton, kick off time TBC.
Midsomer Norton 22 vs Chew Valley 43
6th April 2019
Chew Valley secured top spot and automatic promotion at Norton Down, cheered on by hordes of supporters. Had it not been for the clash then there could have been a record crowd but unfortunately a huge chunk of the home support, along with a few fringe players, were at Twickenham.
Chew started the stronger and scored twice before Norton responded with a penalty. This margin meant that Norton were always chasing the game and, although the commitment and desire was never in doubt, the core skills let them down in attack at times. Defensively the cover tackling was almost as impressive as the initial breaks and continuity that Chew provided.
Both sides made use of the driving maul effectively and carried well up front, but the difference was in the execution in wider areas or when a break was made. Whereas Chew made breaks and capitalised with composed decision making and no little skill, Norton too often made an average pass or wrong choice when faced with an opportunity.
The home side were just about at kept arms-length throughout on the scoreboard and Chew ran in a couple of late tries to make absolutely sure of victory, sparking scenes of celebration from the away support. The final score was 22 v 43. Special mention for Norton must go to Joey Button who had an excellent game and a truly remarkable second half and ended up with a hat-trick of tries.
Many congratulations to Chew Valley who played well, drank well, and sang incoherently after the game. Hugh Jeffery was “robbed” in a drinking contest according to himself but Norton were certainly not robbed on the day. Chew should be proud of their efforts and style of rugby this season.
Norton play away to Keynsham on Wednesday night in the semi-final of the cup, so please come and support the lads. Indeed, a few more supporters would have helped us on Saturday. The effects of the “clash” hit local senior community rugby pretty hard, with a number of games called off through lack of players. Hopefully Bath RFC will start to care about local grass-roots men’s rugby sooner rather than later but I don’t think we should hold our breath on this one
Cheltenham 59 - Midsomer Norton 27
30th March 2018
Norton fell short of expectations managing to take just a bonus point from the away trip to Cheltenham.
It was the home side who started well on the 4G artificial pitch, Cheltenham set out to play a fast pace game unleashing some electric backs to score a few try’s early on.
Norton found themselves under pressure for large parts of the game, they struggled to put phases together as the number of handling errors was high and accuracy was poor. Norton attempted to kick from deep however the Cheltenham Number 10’s boot was superior allowing them easy territory.
Cheltenham began to build a very healthy lead securing the try bonus point just after half time. Norton did come back through tries from a Button, Murphy and replacement Jamie Rose. In the final play of the game Abbott crashed over to score Norton’s 4th bonus point try. But it was too little too late as Cheltenham managed to score 8 tries in total - deserving the victory 59-27.
This Saturday Norton host local rivals Chew Valley for a top of the table clash - 3pm Kick-off at Norton Down.
Midsomer Norton 26 v 17 Barton Hill
23rd March 219
Conditions for rugby were pretty much perfect on Saturday as Norton hosted Barton Hill; warm, slightly overcast and very little wind. The early exchanges saw both sides committed defensive work prevent attacking continuity, and when there was a line-break the final pass failed to go to hand.
The deadlock was broken in dramatic style. Norton had a scrum deep in their own 22 and were in the process of executing an exit strategy when Ben Taylor went off-script and made a clean break through the centre. Looking left and right for support the ball found its way to Schuster who somehow managed to pick it off his laces whilst completing a somersault before linking up with Jeffery in support who stepped two players to score under the posts for a converted try.
Superior firepower in terms of ball-carrying combined with clever tactical kicking from James Abbott’s left boot put Barton Hill under pressure and from a patient driving maul the pressure told and tom Clark scored. Barton Hill hit back before half time to make it 14v7.
Barton Hill started the second period strong and were dominant in collisions. Norton’s coach Blackmore was regretting a decision from a few years ago where he converted David Wright from a winger into outside centre at Bristol Saracens. Now playing for Barton Hill alongside his brother Mike, he ran a good line and jinked his way over in familiar fashion for an unconverted try.
Unlike in the Avonmouth game two weeks previous, MNRFC were able to strangle the momentum back by not compounding their mistakes and upping the intensity, helped by a strong bench. Mitch Rose scored with a powerful finish running through and over the fly half to increase the lead and Luke Murphy rounded off the scoring with an unconverted try in the right hand corner.
The game finished with a few handbags being thrown resulting in one yellow card for each team. Alex Mitchard was clearly cheating and stopping the ball coming out and a Barts player decided to play the bongos on his shiny dome until he got bored. Both were unhurt and seemed delighted to have the last 5 minutes off! A late try for the visitors brought the game closer but it ended in a 26 v 17 bonus point victory for Midsomer Norton.
Avonmouth 38 Midsomer Norton 35
9th March 2019
Midsomer Norton let the lead slip away as Avonmouth were victorious in a game of 2 halves.
Having most of the possession in the first half Midsomer Norton dominated most aspects of the game, scoring 4 tries in first 40 minutes through Button (2), Sam Knight and Luke Murphy. Avonmouth bagged 2 tries in reply but Norton looked certain to run away with the game.
The tables turned in the second half, Avonmouth held onto the ball for long periods of time. Norton struggled to deal with this, they were unable to turn the ball over which allowed Avonmouth to run in 4 tries bringing the scores level 35-35. Avonmouth kept piling on the pressure, Norton defended poorly compared to efforts in the first half.
Norton were desperately trying to regain possession of the ball in the dying seconds. But the referee awarded a penalty to Avonmouth in front of the posts as Norton were adjudged to be competing for the ball illegally. Avonmouth slotted the penalty to win the game in the last play. 38-35.
Midsomer Norton 24 Stroud 14
2nd March 2019
Midsomer Norton welcomed Stroud to Norton Down in the eagerly anticipated Tribute Western Counties North league encounter. Stroud had won the corresponding fixture at home so Norton knew that they had to be at their very best to come out on top.
Starting with the wind, Stroud piled on the pressure early on only to be denied by committed and organised defence resulting in frustration and no reward for their efforts initially. Norton then began to work their way against the conditions, varying their attack between forward and backs until they opened up an overlap on the left hand-side where Taylor was put into space. Just as the supporters were ready to celebrate an excellent Norton try, everyone had to do a double-take as they realised that for some reason a Stroud player was now running down the slope all the way to score. Taylor, who’s kicking and all round play has been superb this season, had unfortunately decided to pass the ball to the only Stroud player anywhere near play at the time.
Indeed, it was Taylor who made the score 3 v 7 with a penalty before another excellent individual breakaway try from the Stroud 10 gave them a 3 v 14 lead at half-time. Even though the score line was far from ideal, the Norton players were very confident of overhauling it and winning the game. Little inaccuracies were their undoing but these were ironed out as the game went into the final quarter.
Dominating possession and territory with the helpful wind in the second half, Norton began to apply pressure resulting in another penalty, a try from Luke Murphy from a quick tap penalty, a penalty try from a scrum and then a fine try scored by James Abbott in the right hand corner after some soft hands and hard running. Jason Holmwood was a little disappointed to have a bonus point try from a cross-field kick chalked off because the referee was unable to keep up with play.
The final score read 24 v 14 to Midsomer Norton and everyone who played knew they had been in a very physical and enjoyable game.
Old Richians 24 Midsomer Norton 34
16th Feb 2019
Midsomer Norton secured another bonus point win away from Home on Saturday, against mid table Gloucester side, Old Richians.
Early pressure saw Norton get on the scoreboard first, Ben Taylor was able to slot 3 points from close range. Richians then replied as they attacked using multiple phases, eventually finding their way into the Norton 22 the Home side crashed over to take the score to 7-3.
Despite a number of changes to the Norton starting 15, things still ran smoothly - Luke Murphy showed talent at Fly Half, controlling the game and unleashing threats of Taylor and Jeffery in midfield. Sam Church ruled the front of the line out to guarantee stability and possession. Church in fact capped a solid performance with a great individual try, a clever dummy with the full back saw him touch down and regain the lead for Norton. (7-10)
Confident Norton then struck again, Richians were attempting to spread the ball wide but centre Jeffery showed great hunger in defence, as he smashed his opposite number in midfield. When making the crunching hit, somehow, unknown to everyone on the pitch he stripped the ball then used his pace to run in from half way to score under the posts. (7-17)
It seemed that Norton could runaway away with game at this point. However Richians had other ideas, they spent the final 10 minutes of the half in the Norton 22 managing to score 2 tries, taking the score to 17-17 going into the break.
Norton never looked doubtful in the second half, they soon regained the lead through a penalty from Taylor. Smart play from Joe Button saw the try machine extend his sides lead, he spotted a gap around the fringe of a ruck and dived over to score. Another to add to his tally for the season. 27-17.
An injury to an Old Richians player forced the game to move pitches. This did not effect Norton’s attack as they secured the bonus point try with 10 minutes left. Holmwood made his way through a few gaps, passing to winger Ben Palmer who raced down the left hand touchline to score in the corner. (17-34)
Richians were able to take something from the game as they were awarded a penalty try with a few minutes to go, this meant they secured a losing bonus point - taking the final score to 24-34 in favour of Norton.
Midsomer Norton 27 Old Bristolians 24
9th Feb 2019
Midsomer Norton welcomed Old Bristolians to a soggy Norton down after a week of snow-melt and rain for their Tribute Western Counties South clash. Playing with the wind and the slope, Norton started confidently only to be hampered by handling errors and lapses in concentration. Bristolians scored two tries in the first half through incisive running and intelligent support play and Norton’s only reply was a penalty until they had a lineout on their own 10 meter line.
What followed was one for the ages. A precise throw and clean catch initiated an incredible maul marshalled by Adam Sinden and controlled brilliantly by the Norton pack, rolling carefully left and then right whilst avoiding attempts to bring it down as it moved inevitably to the line where it was finally scored by Joe Button. The whole pack deserves credit for this wonderful effort but Button performance warranted a try because he was simply immense in defence for the full 80 minutes. He and David Sawkins in particular tackled low relentlessly making it impossible for Bristolians to break the gainline effectively whilst also creating turnover opportunities.
Towards the end of the half, after some sustained pressure the ball was thrown wide, which seemed unwise at the time in the conditions but Mitchard was able to somehow elude the clutches of two defenders and then tip-toe in at the corner. Norton held a small lead at half time (15 v 12) which considering the wind looked like it was very fragile indeed. The performance in this second period against the elements was outstanding however, with the scrum dominating coupled with tireless work to keep the ball and win the collision / gainline battle. The back three also covered the space well and were safe under the high ball which nullified the advantage of the conditions somewhat.
Jamie Rose scored after some relentless work once again from the pack to increase the lead. This was expertly converted by Taylor who continues to impress off the tee. Abbott, who controlled the game tactically throughout, put a perfectly judged kick across to Jeffery who caught it in his stride and beat a couple of defenders before finding Mitchard who broke into the 22. Possession was recycled quickly and Mitch Rose fed Murphy to go over in the corner. There has been a big improvement in support play meaning that Norton are now taking advantage of such breaks and scoring regularly.
Old Bristolians remained dangerous and scored from an interception and through some of their own grunt work to make the final minutes as nerve-wracking as ever. When the final whistle blew, both sides knew they had been in a tough game battling against each other and the elements. The Norton swamp-monsters came out on top due to set-piece work, Mendip grit, fitness and no shortage of skill.
Final Score Midsomer Norton 27 v Old Bristolians 24.
RFU Intermediate Cup
Matson 27 Midsomer Norton 13
2nd Feb 2019
In the midst of a snow-day packed weekend, Norton travelled to Matson for the second time in three weeks in the Intermediate Cup. In what was largely an evenly matched contest once again, Matson emerged victorious, with the final score 27 v 13, largely due to their superior lineout work that gave them a strangle hold.
Norton were unable to create enough pressure through good possession in Matson territory due to this and had to attempt make the most of every opportunity to attack from the scrum or from broken field counter-attacks. From a scrum inside of their own half, Midsomer Norton scored an excellent try. Button, Schuster, Taylor and Mitchard combining to put Jeffery into space down the right touchline, who passed back inside to Schuster to score.
A special mention for Pat Howell, who at just shy of 18 years old played the last 20 minutes and looks like a potential first team regular for years to come. The journey home was a tranquil affair where everyone kept their clothes on, drank responsibly, and behaved impeccably.
Best of luck to Matson in the next round.
Wells 5 Midsomer Norton 42
26th Jan 2019
Midsomer Norton made the short trip across the mendips to local rivals Wells, and It was clear from the start that unlike last week, Norton were well up for the task.
Wells began with early possession but Norton proved to be well organised in defence allowing the home team very little attacking platform.
Jeffery was the first to score, a kick in behind the defence allowed the Norton winger to dive on the ball as it reached the in goal area, conversion added by Taylor.
Defence from Norton went from strength to strength and as Wells attempted to spread the ball wide, Mitchard cleverly intercepted the ball on the half way line to run in un opposed. Shortly after Mitchard intercepted again scoring an identical try to put his side 0-21 up.
Wells then got a score just before half time through some good interlinking play, giving themselves hope in the game. Scores 5-21 at half time.
The second half saw Norton in full control, with scrum half Schuster marching his forwards around the pitch, Abbott used the boot well to gain territory as well as chips over the top that kept the home defence guessing. Wells contested very well in the scrum but unfortunately lacked the cutting edge to beat Norton’s defence.
Tries in the second half came from Button, Fear & Mitchard, who finished a fine game completing his hat trick; a great line from a set piece move allowed him to run in under the sticks, final score 5-42
Matson 22 - Midsomer Norton 19
19th Jan 2019
From the kick off, Matson tackled hard and low and created turnover opportunities without allowing Norton to beat the gain line. The first half was characterised by Matson using the slight wind and slope to gain territory, whilst their superior lineout and breakdown work made it difficult for Norton to get themselves out of danger. The first try was from a simple and effective driving maul and the second came from exploiting a numerical advantage on the blindside after some good phase work, both of these were unconverted. Scoring their third try in similar fashion to the second then adding the conversion made the score an imposing 17 v 0 after 25 minutes.
From this point on Norton grew into the game, the breakdown became a little more even and the scrummage began to dominate. Norton’s first try came when they spread the ball wide and Joe Button took a good inside line from Abbott to touch down. The momentum looked to have swung but back came the home side with a score to leave it 22 v 5 at half time.
The second period saw Norton dominate territory and possession whilst unable to score freely due to committed defence and being a little slow to get the ball away into space and the dangerous outside backs. Murphy and Jeffery were particularly threatening on the counter attack and were not used enough with front foot ball. Schuster scored a superb try from the base of the scrum by somehow wriggling through the bemused Matson back row. Taylor converted.
From this point on the game seemed to be there for the taking but a combination of heroic last-ditch defence and missing golden opportunities meant that Norton were left with only 6 minutes to score a winner after Mitchard was put through a gap to score a converted try under the posts. Matson managed to close out the game and deservedly won by 3 points.
Norton look forward to the rematch in the cup in two weeks’ time and also the away match at Wells next week.
Midsomer Norton 35 v Gordano 34
12th Jan 2019
Midsomer Norton hold on to top spot despite a spirited performance from Gordano who had a chance to win their second game in a row in a similar fashion with a penalty into the wind in the final play of the game. Unlike the drop goal success of the previous week, this penalty was missed and Norton emerged victorious. The crowd were treated to some excellent running rugby from both teams but Ben Taylor’s superb goal kicking under pressure made the decisive difference on this occasion.
It’s away to Matson for a big top of the table clash next week.
_Clevedon 14 - Midsomer Norton 27
5th Jan 2019
After a long 3 week break over the Christmas period, Norton travelled to Clevedon hoping to continue their recent form.
Clevedon started well as they had possession of the ball for the opening 10 minutes, putting a lot of pressure on Norton in there own 22. However Norton’s organised defence held firm, eventually turning the ball over they were able to exit their lines.
Neither side was able to break the deadlock, but after 25 minutes Norton made a break in their own half through winger Palmer, who offloaded to Schuster, then to Sawkins who was able to beat 2 defenders to score the first points of the afternoon. 0-5
Clevedon replied just before half time with a try of there own, as they finally turned possession into points. Scores 7-5 at the break.
Clevedon were able to get on the scoresheet again just after half time, the ball spilling out of the scrum allowed a player to run in unopposed, conversion being added.
After this Norton really began to get in their stride, playing to their strengths they carried the ball well using the strong pack. Edgell ran a hard line to get in behind the defence, he went onto sell an outrageous dummy to score a great individual try. Taylor adding the conversion, followed by a penalty. Shortly after Norton were able to break down the Clevedon defence for Fly Half Sinden to score, taking the score to 14-22.
Norton were left hunting for the try bonus point on the last play, in which they were successful as the ball was passed down the line, Denning was on hand to dive over. Taking the score to 14-27.
Midsomer Norton remain 3 points clear at the top of Western Counties North. Next week they play Home to Gordano, Kick-off 2:15pm.
Midsomer Norton 25 v Chosen Hill Former Pupils 17
15th Dec 2018
For the second week running, the rain and soggy conditions made passing and offloading hazardous and resulted in a game that was full of good intentions but a free-flowing game never materialised. Playing into the wind in the first half, Norton started strongly with strong running and continuity allowing the impressive Matthew Denning to score the first try of the game. He was on excellent form all game, with the ball seemingly in his hands at all times as he tidied up messy situations beating defenders with his trademark drop of the shoulder.
Over-playing when the weather deteriorated led to Norton giving up possession and territory and Chosen Hill were on hand to take advantage to score a penalty and then a try of their own to put themselves in the lead. The highlight of the first half was the sight of winger Ben Palmer turning defence into attack with aggressive illusive counter attacks and he was also on the end of the move to score in the corner giving Norton the lead again before half time.
The second half may live long in the memory but only because the players and spectators will remember how cold they were. An injury to a Chosen Hill player meant that the game moved to the spare third team pitch. There were lots of stoppages and no real danger of a game of rugby breaking out with the exception of tries from Anderson and Jeffery, both of whom showed determination and an eye for a break all game. A special mention should go to the referee Shaun Redmond who displayed patience and empathy for the situation in difficult circumstances and remained professional throughout.
Final score Midsomer Norton 25 v Chosen Hill Former Pupils 17.
Chew Valley 30pts V 5pts Midsomer Norton
8th Dec 2018
Winning the toss and playing with a strong wind at their backs in the first half, Midsomer Norton were looking to start strong and build a lead vs on-form Chew Valley. However, within the blink of an eye, Chew had scored three tries and the score was 19 v 0. From this point it was an uphill struggle for Norton who were second best throughout. The final result was 30 v 5 and Chew Valley gained a deserved bonus point victory that their well-balanced attack and tight defence warranted.
Midsomer Norton 35 Cheltenham 15
1st Dec 2018
The rain finally made way ahead of kick-off as Norton welcomed Cheltenham as they travelled down the M5.
The Visitors Cheltenham started the game well and proved they were up for it despite coming into the game at bottom of the table. They soon got into their stride putting pressure on Norton, kicking a penalty early on. They then scored a well worked try through forward carries catching Nortons defence napping, taking the score to 0-10
Norton having made a very slow start to the first half, after a dull spell of 25 minutes, managed to score 2 tries of their own through Hooker Mitch Rose and Number 8 Joe Button, taking the half time score to 14-10.
The second half started well for Norton as they were awarded a penalty 5 metres from the Cheltenham line, as ever they confidently opted for the scrum. The powerful nudge came on and the referee had no option but to award a penalty try due to the visitors wheeling illegally.
Cheltenham soon replied with a very strong individual effort from their number 13, a few miss tackles from Norton allowed the outside centre to touch down under the posts.
Norton then seemed to fire on all cylinders as they began to build some great phase play, holding possession for long periods. From one attack Hugh Jeffery was able to pick a ‘hard and straight’ running line that beat numerous defenders, before being tackled just short he was able to reach out and get the ball grounded on the line to secure the try bonus point. Taylor again, added the extras 28-10.
Closing out the game Norton’s backs were able to let loose winger Ben Palmer who used his pace to finish off another well worked try in the corner, taking the final score to 35-10.
Norton finished the game strongly here but will need to start better away to Chew Valley this Saturday, in what always promises to be a tough and entertaining local derby.
Barton Hill 17 Midsomer Norton 24
24th Nov 2018
Midsomer Norton travelled to recently promoted Barton Hill for what was always going to be a tough match for both sides.
Norton started the better of the two teams as they carried well playing down the slope in the opening minutes of the game. After some early pressure deep inside the Barton Hill twenty two, Norton were awarded a penalty in which they opted for a scrum. The dominant pack was on hand to allow number 8 Jamie Rose to touch down for a push over try, Taylor adding the extras.
From the following kick-off Norton gathered the ball well, an overlap on the blindside allowed a break to be made in the Barton Hill defence, after some interlinking play saw Ben Palmer run in for a great try in the right hand corner to collect Norton’s 2nd points of the afternoon, taking the score to 12-0 after 5 minutes.
Barton Hill however were not phased by this good start from Norton, the Home side were able to use short pick and go drives to gain hard yards up the slope, eventually with ill discipline from Norton along with good ball carrying Barton Hill were able to get a try of there own taking the score to 12-7.
Handling errors from the Norton side made it very difficult to string phases together for the remainder of he half. The Home team capitalised on these mistakes, they were able to hold possession for long periods and well deservedly score another converted try to make score 14-12 to Barton Hill at the end of the first half.
Once again Norton started the second half the brighter of the two teams with Fear, Jeffery and Jenner carrying the ball well up the slope. After a series of phases Jamie Rose was able to crash over the line to regain the lead for Norton taking the score to 14-17. Unfortunately both Clark and Schuster had to leave the field due to head injuries, along with a Barton Hill front row player being injured causing the game to move to a different pitch.
As the game closed Norton looked comfortable with the ball in hand and Ben Palmer was able to score his 2nd try of the game, to also secure the bonus point victory late in the game leaving the score 24-17.
All credit to Barton Hill who made the visitors work very hard for the victory. This week Norton host Cheltenham in the hope of securing another good performance at home .
Midsomer Norton 41 Avonmouth 24
17th Nov 2018
Norton welcomed Avonmouth to Norton Down on a crisp sunny day and perfect conditions for a quality game of rugby.
The story of the first half was dominated by Norton’s excellent build up play and varied attack making yards and building momentum before ultimately dropping a pass or making a poor decision when a try seemed inevitable. Avonmouth punished the home side through a simple but effective move with the blindside winger taking a great line to go in under the posts. Both of their wingers were a real threat causing different problems, one being big and powerful and the other small and extremely illusive.
Mitchard scored Norton’s first try, smashing over on the left-hand side after some good hands and continuity. Avonmouth hit back with a try of their own before Norton were awarded a penalty try as Luke Murphy was taken out by a no-arms tackle close to the line. Unfortunately, Murphy had to go off with a shoulder injury and on came Ben Palmer.
Half time was 14 v 14, and after a frank discussion at half time about keeping our patience and possession, MNRFC came out with something to prove. Jamie Rose caused mayhem in the Avonmouth ranks as he gathered the restart and Norton were on the front foot. His brother Mitch was having a storming game in both defence and attack having a canny knack of being in the right place at the right time. There were seemingly about 5 Mitch Rose’s on the pitch at any one time. Taylor, who has suddenly become the most consistent kicker in world rugby this season, slotted two quick-fire penalties at the start of the half.
The substitutes made a huge impact and Palmer scored after pressurising the defence into a fumble and then running in under the posts. Another penalty try, this time for an obvious infringement to stop a maul working its way ominously to the line and then a smart finish from a typically hard and straight line by social media guru and backs captain Jeffery put Midsomer firmly in the driving seat.
Avonmouth never gave up and deservedly got a try near the end of the game with Norton down to 13 through two yellow cards for cynical play. The final score was a good reflection on a fine team performance. Ben Moon was a calm and class act pulling the strings at 9, and both Joe Knight and Connor Schuster deserve mentions for their excellent performances and tireless work for the team. The commitment shown was epitomised by Harper who in the final play of the game, with the result already decided, put his body on the line and ended up with a gash on his chin that later needed stitching up. Everybody played their part so apologies for anything missed in this report. ‘mon Nor!
The Somerset Cup
Midsomer Norton 41 vs Weston Hornets 58
With the rain pouring on Saturday morning, you would be forgiven for thinking this Somerset Cup fixture between Midsomer Norton and South West 1 side Weston Hornets was destined to be a war of attrition in difficult conditions. As it turned out, nothing could be further from the truth. The skies cleared and the tries flowed with the large crowd being treated to 13 touch downs, 99 points and some quality rugby from both sides.
The junior section welcomed the teams on to the pitch with a guard of honour, followed by a 2 minutes silence that was impeccably observed by all. The pattern of the game was established early with both sides showing excellent continuity in possession and commitment in contact and the breakdown. Norton showed some superiority in the set-piece against the higher league opposition and were direct with ball in hand. Hornets were exceptional with ball in hand in the wider channels, especially from set-piece where they turned scrappy ball into try scoring opportunities running excellent lines, making great decisions and scoring clinical and entertaining tries.
The Norton try scorers were Joe Button 2 (of course), Denning, Murphy, and Taylor who also had another flawless kicking performance from the tee. Next, we welcome Avonmouth RFC to Norton Down on the 17th November where the supporters will be expecting another full-blooded encounter.
Stroud 32 Midsomer Norton 17
Playing into the wind in the 1st half, Midsomer Norton struggled to cope with the strong direct running from an impressive Stroud outfit. Right from the kick off Stroud were able to breach the gain line with every phase and create space for their back 3 to exploit. The first try came in the initial 2 minutes following some crisp wide passing and continuity from the three-quarters, followed by a penalty and then another similar try leaving the score 15 v 0 with Norton seemingly staring down the barrel of a big defeat.
Living off scraps of possession, Norton were hasty and made over-optimistic choices in attack and were turned over before being able to build pressure. Stroud added to their lead before the end of the half with a converted try and a penalty but the half-time scoreline of 25 v 3 by no means flattered the Home side who were dominant in every area of the game.
The second half was a very different story. Norton could easily have been disheartened and been on the end of a drubbing but this side is at the top end of the table for a reason. The line-speed in defence, intensity at the breakdown, patience with the ball in hand, and dominance in the scrum put Stroud under immense pressure for the rest of the game. Two push over tries touched down by designated try scorer Joe Button meant that the score was 25 v 17 going into the last 15 minutes. The large travelling support consisting of many well-oiled club legends were in full voice but the Home side’s defence stood firm and breathed a sigh of relief when the ball was knocked on just a yard from their line.
In typical fashion, Stroud were able to score an excellent long-range try running excellent lines at pace whilst displaying superior handling, timing and weight of pass to give themselves some breathing space. This score pretty much closed the game out and they deservedly ran out 32 v 17 winners on the day.
Next week Norton welcome Weston Hornets in the cup. This promises to be a great game and a challenge for these Mendip Warriors to test themselves against class opposition once again.
Midsomer Norton 38 Old Richians 15
The visitors shook the journey out of their legs and put early pressure on the home team and kicked to the corner to set up an attacking maul. Norton strong defence weathered the storm and forced a handling mistake from Old Richians. A great scrum allowed Norton to win possession and they cleared their lines with some strong runs from Jenner, Button and Abbott.
A powerful 30m driving maul put Old Richians on the back foot. Taylor carried the ball forward and Mitchard went close before Fear, picked up the ball to dive over the line, collecting the first points of the day. Taylor added the extra points. Norton kept the pressure on the visitors forcing a mistake which resulted in a penalty goal for Taylor. Clark, Schuster, Gimson and Jeffery all carried the ball at the Richians defence, but it was Mitchard who caused the visitors most problems with strong runs through the middle of the park. One sweeping attack allowed Mitchard to score near the posts, as ever Taylor added the extra two points.
On the thirty-minute mark, Schuster found some space on his wing and ran around the defence to score under the posts. Just before the half ended, there was a scuffle between the two teams which resulted in a player from either side being yellow carded, Denning the miscreant for Norton. At the half time break Norton had a substantial lead of 24 – 10.
Norton continued the second half as they finished the first attacking at every opportunity Abbott and Gimson combined supported by Palmer to cause Old Richians problems before Mitch Rose crashed over for the first points of the half, Taylor added the two points. Norton were reduced to fourteen again when flanker Clark received a yellow card for a high tackle.
Norton’s back players Jeffery and Schuster ran the ball back strongly before Taylor crashed over under the posts. Only for the referee to adjudge him to have had the ball held up. Button drove over to score from the resulting scrum, Taylor again added the extra two points. Old Richians rallied towards the end of the game and scored their third try of the game closing the gap to 38-15.
Although probably not as clinical, as they had in previous games, their power in the scrummage gave them a good supply of ball and this result keeps Norton at the top of the table
Old Bristolians 27 Midsomer Norton 31
Midsomer Norton started brightly, and used the elements, low sun and slope, to put pressure on the home side. In a very short period the first points were scored. Fear crossed the line, after several strong forward drives, Taylor added the extra points
Old Bristolians bounced back and moved Norton’s defence from one side to the other before scoring in the right-hand corner closing the gap to 5-7. Norton’s bad luck continued when a few minutes later, while attacking in the opposition’s 22, scrum half Knight received a red card trying to win the ball from a breakdown. With the game only twelve minutes old Norton were forced to have a reshuffle. Sinden stepped up off the bench to play scrumhalf and the pack was reduced to seven men. J. Rose having to leave the field to allow the change. Old Bristolians immediately used their extra man advantage to score from a catch and drive at a line out.
Norton went straight back on the attack and from one forward drive thought they had scored, only for the referee to deny them the points adjudging them to have obstructed in the act of scoring.
At the other end Harper saved a certain try with great chase back to put in a tackle stopping a score out wide. Strong drives from the Norton forwards Jenner, Edgell, Denning and Clark kept the home side on the backfoot, but it was fly half Abbott who crossed the line, Taylor added the conversion 10-14. Old Bristolians bounced back quickly scoring to take a slim one-point, 15-14 lead into the half time break.
Shortly after the break Old Bristolians kicked down the slope to the corner and with the extra forward scored a second try from catch and drive. Norton went on the attack and strong runs from Mitchard, Taylor, Schuster and Holmewood gave Button the opportunity to dive over, bringing the score line back to a one-point game 20-19. Old Bristolians scored a third try from the same catch and drive move this time they added the extra points.
Taylor ran around under posts to score and then converted his own try to bring it back to a one-point deficit. Holmewood, Palmer and Mitchard carried the ball deep into the home side’s half. M. Rose produced a long run up wing to touch down in the corner.
The Norton pack was finishing the stronger of the two and were in Old Bristolians territory when the game was winding down, Norton won ball and just walked it into touch to end the game and take the win 27-31.
The game was won by a mixture character and fitness, with the team playing for the whole 80 mins, and the points from Taylor’s conversions making the difference.
Midsomer Norton 28 Wells 7
The visitors started the game playing up the slope and quickly put Norton on the backfoot with a series of determined attacks pressurising the Norton try line. The home side’s defence was up to the task and stopped the attacks close to their line.
Having weathered the initial onslaught, the team worked their way down the field, where Norton’s big pack won a ball against the head. Number 8 Button picked up the ball going forward and scored from twenty-five metres out to collect the game’s first points. Taylor added the extra two.
Wells bounced back quickly and scored a well worked try under the posts making the conversion easy, this levelled the score. Territory advantage allowed two of Norton’s big forwards Edgell and Gimson to go close but were unable to cross the line. A great break by full back Jeffery in the twenty fifth minute put Norton back in the lead, fly half Taylor added the extra two points.
The pack was now supplying good ball from both set piece and the breakdown allowing wave after wave of attacks to be initiated by fly half Abbott. The possession allowed Norton’s runners Holmewood, Taylor, Schuster and Jeffery to spread Wells’ defensive line. This eventually cracked allowing Button to score his second try of the game, and with the conversion added, Norton went into the break with a 21-7 lead.
The second half was completely different to the first as it was all about Norton’s defence and their missed chances.
Wells used the slope to their advantage but were unable make a dent in a determined and well organised Norton defence. Norton ran the ball from deep but small errors near the Wells’ line stopped the home side increasing their points tally. This was format for most of the second half, but the final minute saw an end to end attack started by Button and Clark and finished off by Jeffery to close the game out with his 2nd try, as ever Taylor added the extra points. The final score was 28-7 and another bonus point win for the home side.
The team had given the massed ranks of former players a great spectacle of rugby, leaving Midsomer Norton at the top of the table with a three-point lead after six games.
Midsomer Norton 34 Matson 26
After the constant rain during last weekend’s game the Midsomer Norton supporters were greeted with a glorious day at Norton Down for the game against visitors Matson
Starting the game playing down the slope the home side began quickly and in the first scrummage they demolished their opposition. Keeping Matson on the back foot and in their own half the pressure eventually allowed Murphy to finish off an attack and score in the left-hand corner. Taylor added the extra points, from the touchline. Having got the journey out of their legs Matson now got into their stride and scored under the posts, levelling the score at 7-7.
Norton put this behind them, their big forwards Jenner, Edgell, Button, Swift and Fear, carried the ball at their opposition. Flyhalf Abbott used his boot to keep the ball in Matson territory, this relentless pressure soon took its toll. The team took the lead again, when scrum half Knight scored at the base the posts, Taylor added the extra points.
Norton added another seven points when Button drove off of the side of a breakdown to touch down, Taylor added the extras. As the half came to a close Matson resulted to taking a penalty kick to try to close the gap but the ball struck the post and it finished 21-7 in the home sides favour.
Now playing up the slope the back three of Jeffery Church and Schuster ran the ball out of defence, one attack allowed Murphy to make a break from just inside Matson’s half shrugging off tackles he scored under the posts. Taylor kicked another easy conversion. Gimson, from the bench, now joined his teammates Denning Clark and Sawkins to carry the ball at the opposition.
The visitors took advantage of the slope to dominate the game for a fifteen minute period and closed the gap with three scores. Two from the pack driving off set pieces one from a line out and another from a scrum. During this period Norton was only able to respond with two penalties from Taylor.
Matson, at the end the game, were awarded a penalty. They again decided to take the points, this time to gain a losing bonus point. The result was the same as at the end of the first half, the kick was missed. The final score stayed at 34-26 to Norton.
This win has put Norton at the top of the table with five wins out of five.____________________________________________________________________________
Gordano 17 Midsomer Norton 31
Rain was falling when Norton arrived at Gordano and this continued for the whole game, that said Norton started brightly. Receiving the ball from the kick off Norton carried the ball strongly into the Gordano territory setting up field position. With the forwards winning good possession at a scrummage this allowed scrum half Knight to collect the ball and touch down for the games first score, Taylor added the extra points. The pack’s power allowed number 8 button to score the second try of the game as he touched down for a push over try, again Taylor added the extras. Taylor extended the lead with a penalty goal. Norton played out of defence with strong runs from Clark, Fear and Jeffery
Gordano slowly got into their stride and scored following a good drive taking the score to 5-17 but were unable to add the extra points when the ball hit the upright. Buoyed by this score Gordano kept up their work rate and put Norton on the back foot, a series of missed tackles allowed them to add a second try, the extra points were added taking the score to 12-17.
Norton’s powerful forwards continued to dominate in the scrummage eventually winning two balls against the head. With this constant pressure the home team were forced into infringing, and one player received a yellow card. Fly half Sinden consistently used the elements to keep his team in the opposition territory. As the half drew to a close, small handling mistakes and good defence from the home side close to the line, stopped Norton building up a commanding lead, and the half finished 12- 17 in the visitor’s favour.
Norton now had to play into the strengthening breeze now putting the ball through the hands, one move saw Denning, feed winger Palmer who finished off the move to score on his 1st team debut.
Gordano’s backs looked lively all game but were largely ineffectual as they were deprived of the ball by the Norton pack. Gordano’s efforts were helped by Norton receiving two yellow cards in the half one for prop Edgell the other Button.
Norton kept the pressure on the home side for the whole 80 minutes, scoring right on the final whistle extending their lead. This score again came from the scrummage with Button diving over to score again. Taylor added the extra points. The game ended with Norton having a winning margin of 17-31.
Midsomer Norton 33 Clevedon 10
Norton welcomed Clevedon, who had been relegated last season, to Norton Down for the third game of the season. The visitors started quickly and within the first few minutes caught Norton napping with a cross kick, scoring a try in the corner, they were unable to add the conversion.
Norton soon got into their stride with some powerful runs from Jenner Denning and Fear.
Chasing and catching a kick Norton winger, Harper, was lucky not to be seriously injured in a tip tackle, the Clevedon player received a yellow card. The score was levelled when prop Edgell powered over in the corner. No 8 Button took advantage of some strong forward play to extend the lead, Taylor had a relatively easy kick to add the extra points. Clevedon replied with a well worked line out move scoring in the same corner. This score seemed to give Clevedon extra encouragement and they put Norton on the back foot for large periods of what was left in the half. Norton won a penalty at the scrum allowing them to clear their lines. The home sides’ defence continued to hold firm giving Norton a small half time lead, 12-10.
Norton now had the advantage of the slope and set about dominating the rest of the game.
Early pressure produced some chances, but they were left begging, and this let Clevedon eventually clear their lines, but this relief was short lived. One catch and drive gained the home side 30m in territory before the visitors could stop it. All this constant pressure allowed J. Rose to score under the posts, Taylor added the extras
As the half continued, all the fight seemed to drain out of the Clevedon side as they faced a Norton tidal wave of attack after attack, coming from both forwards and backs. Button was on hand to benefit from his team’s efforts and scored two further tries, completing his hat trick.
The game finished 33-10 in Norton’s favour. After the game the home supporters were left trying to think if, in the second half, had Clevedon had any possession in the Norton half. A great performance by the whole team, in both attack and defence. Next week the side travel to Gordano
Chosen Hill 21 Midsomer Norton 33
Norton made their first of the season’s many journeys into Gloucester, for Saturday’s match against Chosen Hill FP. The pitch was dry but there was a stiff breeze blowing across the pitch, this and the slope were to Norton’s advantage for the first half. Chosen Hill had an early attempt at goal which hit the post and rebounded. Flanker Sawkins suffered an early cut to the head and his backrow partner was lucky not to be seriously injured in a tip tackle which went un-penalised.
Norton were the first to score when Taylor slotted a long-range penalty, but the home side scored a try in reply wide out to take the lead. Norton used the slope and wind well to gain field position and Button scored a try at the back of a driving maul following a lineout. Chosen Hill levelled the score with a penalty of their own.
A scrum on the five-metre line allowed number 8 Button to pick up and dive over to collect his second try of the afternoon, Taylor added the extra points. This gave Norton an 8-15 lead at the break, but they had suffered another injury with centre Murphy having to leave the field.
Norton’s lineout had worked well all afternoon and from one, close to the line this allowed hooker M. Rose to score from a catch and drive. Chosen Hill replied with a penalty goal before they had a player yellow carded. During this period the home side closed the gap with a try, which was unconverted. Taylor kept the Norton score board ticking over with a penalty keeping the gap at ten points 16-26. Norton then suffered another injury when replacement scrum half Prentice suffered a bad cut over his eye and was removed to hospital.
Now back to a full team the home team scored another try, closing the gap to five points. Norton’s fitness showed as they finished the stronger of the two teams with J. Rose joining his brother on the score board, again Taylor added the extra points to finish the game 21-33 in Norton’s favour.
A good win on the road but Norton had collected several worrying injuries as Schuster also had to leave the field. There were some good performances especially winger Church who worked tirelessly in defence for the whole game. After the game there seemed to be confusion with the final score, the RFU website posted the incorrect score 29-48.
Midsomer Norton 25 Chipping Sodbury 17
The conditions were perfect at Norton Down for the first game of the 2018-2019 season, with Chipping Sodbury being the visitors. Sodbury started the brighter of the two sides scoring first and even caught the Norton pack napping, destroying the home’s scrum in the first encounter. Norton quickly corrected this and scored a push over try, by number 8, Rose moving the score on to 5-7. A penalty from Taylor gave Norton the lead. This lead was extended when captain Fear won a ball in the line out close to the line, the following drive, allowed Button to collect the try. Taylor again added the extra points. The half ended with the score at 15-7 in Norton’s favour.
The second half continued as the first with neither side gaining a clear advantage. One Sodbury opportunity found a hole in Norton’s defensive line and Chipping Sodbury slipped through to score unopposed, the conversion was missed but the gap was now closed to three points. Shortly after, Norton were awarded a penalty which Taylor converted taking the lead back to 6 points again.
The visitors would not give up and kept up the pressure on the home side, using their big back line, continued to attack and threaten the home team’s line. Eventually the well organised home defence was breached again and Sodbury scored out wide. This made it a one-point game, 18-17.
Having put the first scrummage long behind them Norton pushed Sodbury off their own ball, winning the ball against the head, the pack continued the momentum. This allowing Rose to collect his second try of the day, again the conversion was added. Moving the score on to 25-17.
As the game moved into the closing stages Chipping Sodbury doubled their efforts to reduce the gap and repeatedly fed the ball to their big runners, trying to break down the home team’s defence. Norton defence was stretched and in the dying minute winger Schuster was yellow carded adjudged to have illegally killed the ball.
Having been awarded a penalty Chipping Sodbury decided to take the points and end the game within five points and gain a bonus point, but the kick went wide. Leaving the final score at 25-17 in Norton’s favour.
The home team will be pleased to start their campaign with a win and to welcome back two returning players, Sinden slotting in at fullback and Prentice at scrumhalf. Next week see all three teams away with 1st team at Chosen Hill FP, the 2nds at Wells and the 3rds at Corsham.
MNRFC v Longlevens
Norton Down saw competitive rugby for the first time for many months when Longlevens RFC, coached by former Norton player/coach Tom Lovell, visited for a preseason friendly.
The recent wet weather had made the pitches playable but unfortunately, the rain decided to return later in the afternoon making the conditions awful for the small group of spectators who had braved the elements.
Norton started brighter of the two sides and scored first in the sixth minute with a try from Ben Palmer and again after 15 minutes, when Alex Mitchard made a break near the halfway line, to extend the lead to ten nil.
Longlevens, slowly worked the journey out of their legs and put some continuity into their attacks. This gave them the next scores on twenty-two minutes and again on the half hour mark, to level the score ten all at the halftime break.
The weather had now turned into heavy rain, but the home side is used to playing in persistent rain at Norton Down and seem to prefer playing up the slope.
The teams swopped scores with Goddard collecting the points for Norton, taking the scoreboard to 17 all, the game seemed to be drifting into a disappointing draw. But the Norton team were determined to gain their first win. They upped up their work rate and spent the closing minutes of the game pressurising the visitor’s line. This pressure resulted in a score for Jenner giving the home side their first win of the season 22-17
The afternoon will have given the coaching teams from both clubs plenty to work on, before next weekend when the two clubs will meet again.
6th Jan 2018
Coney Hill 66 MNRFC 0
Norton started the new year with a tough fixture against the league leaders Coney Hill, the game was made more difficult when three players cried off on Friday night adding to the list of injured players.
The game started in cold and damp conditions with both sides making numerous handling errors, before the ball dried out. Norton had a large proportion of both territory and possession but due to mistakes in the Coney Hill five metre area this was not turned into points. Coney Hill on the other hand made the most of their minimal possession scoring tries on the break, one scored from a turnover under their own posts. The first half ended with the home side scoring 27 unanswered points.
The second half was no better for Norton as Coney Hill now had they tails up and the side had lost back row player Clarke to a head injury. Coney Hill just the tactic of chipping over the advancing defence on several occasions gaining more scores extending their lead.
Towards the end of the game the home side’s Number 6 was shown a red card for a punch on Norton’s captain Fear having already received a yellow card for a dangerous tip tackle. This was a very attrition game and the club should be proud of the young players who stepped upped to fulfil this fixture. The final score was 66-0 to Coney Hill.
Next week Norton welcome Stroud to Norton Down hoping to reverse the result from the away fixture in September
16th Dec 2017
Midsomer Norton 29 Old Richians 22
Saturday was Norton’s last game before Christmas and the first return fixture of the season. The team had lost by five points at Old Richians in September and were looking to reverse that result. After a false start the kick off not going ten metres, the home side showed their forward power in the resulting scrummage, driving the opposition back some twenty metres. This power gave the team a good platform to set up good attacking positions with winger Oakley the first to benefit and then centre Jeffery as Norton took a 12-0 early lead.
The visitors slowly got into their stride with some big runners of their own, a missed tackle in the home twenty-two metre area allowed Old Richians to get back into the game, closing the gap with a converted try. Now in the game the visitors had a good period of pressure forcing Norton to defend, an infringement at a breakdown allowed the visitors three points but nothing else. Old Richians took the lead for the first time, when the visitor’s left winger received the ball in his own half and weaved his way through the defence to score a converted try taking the lead 12-17. Norton responded with a catch and drive at the lineout regaining the lead 19-17. Old Richians, made the most of the elements and regained the lead just before half time with another unconverted try, taking a three-point advantage into the break.
Now playing down the slope and with the wind behind them the home side aimed to repeat last week’s second half performance, when they controlled field position, this they did again for most of the forty minutes.
Forwards Clark and Button both collected tries giving Norton a seven-point lead. Now chasing the game, Old Richians were forced to bring on their ex Gloucester and Samoa player, Terry Fanolua, to organise the attack, but the home defence was up to the task repelling all comers. This was the second really good performance in a row and the result allow the team to leap frog Old Richians in the league.
Norton’s next league fixture is away to league leaders Coney Hill on 6th Jan 2018.
There is still rugby at the club over the Christmas period with the annual President’s v Chairman’s match on Boxing Day and the club playing Hibbard’s Heroes’ on the 30th Dec.
9th Dec 2017
Midsomer Norton 29 Avonmouth 12
From the outset of the game Norton’s back row trio of Button Denning and Rose carried ball well, as did backs Taylor Jeffery and Abbott but, the team were unable to break the Avonmouth defence.
Neither side were able to get the upper hand until, a poor clearance kick gifted Avonmouth an easy try. Avonmouth’s confidence was boosted by this score, and quickly scored second try, this one converted taking the score to 0-12.
Norton’s forwards started to get a grip on the game, gaining field position and producing some good go forward ball. In one attack fly half Abbott carried the ball towards the Avonmouth line. Having been tackled he released the ball for the forwards who carried it closer to the posts, quickly recycled the ball was fed to winger Schuster who scored an easy try on the twenty-five-minute mark.
Five minutes later Abbott again carried strongly, setting up a maul the forwards drove for the line which allowed number 8, Rose, to stretch out and place the ball over the line. This levelled the score, then Taylor kicked the conversion to take the lead.
Norton’s pack was missing front row player, prop Edgell due to injury, but it still produced a strong scrummage, putting huge pressure on Avonmouth and even won ball against the head, when Williams out hooked his opposite number. This forward power allowed the home team to take their two-point lead, 14-12, into the break.
Now playing with the slope and wind, Norton set about playing in the Avonmouth half and the visitors on the back foot. Ten minutes into the half, the constant pressure from the home side allowed Gimson to produce a big gap, which allowed Mattick to score under the posts. With the conversion added, the home side now had a comfortable nine-point lead. The pressure off, the whole side settled down and produced an entertaining half for the crowd with some great off loads and powerful forward drives.
With ten minutes to go Captain Tom Fear extended the lead when he rolled out of a tackle to score, again the extra points were taken. With the win secured Norton took an easy three points when awarded a penalty ten metres from the try line.
This was probably the team’s best around performance of the season and a good 29-12 win, against a team two places higher in the league.
2nd Dec 2017
Oldfield 21 Midsomer Norton 25
Norton travelled the short distance into Bath knowing they were going to be supported by a large crowd of former players.
The home team’s back three immediately got into game causing problems for the visitors. Missed tackles allowed Oldfield to score first, taking an early lead with a converted try
Ben Taylor slotted a penalty after an infringement at the scrummage and shortly after he added a second to close the gap to one point 7-6. Norton’s forwards were now getting into the game and carried the ball at the opposition with Button Clarke and the Rose brothers leading the way. In one attack Denning passed the ball to Jeffery on the wing who appeared to have no room to work in. He managed to dance his way thirty metres down the line repelling any Oldfield challenge to put him into touch, to score in the corner. Taylor added the extra two points taking a six point, 7-13, lead into the half-time break.
Oldfield started the new half the better of the two teams and scored a converted try from a chip and chase, retaking the lead. Oldfield, then scored a third try taking them eight points clear 21-13. The front row of Edgell, Rose and Jenner who had struggled to achieve the dominance of recent weeks slowly unpicked the referee’s interpretation of legal binding to gain the upper hand in the scrum.
Norton had a change in scrumhalf when Schuster was forced by injury to leave the field and centre Martin stepped up to replace him. Norton although behind on the score board started to put huge pressure on the home side, this was typified by the work rate of flanker Clarke who threw body soul and head into the game. Hooker, Rose poached a couple of interceptions, giving Norton, some go forward ball. Replacement second row Gimson benefitted from the momentum picking and going to score Norton’s second try, making it a one-point game.
Now with the game being played almost totally in the Oldfield half, the Bath team had to result to kicking to relieve the pressure. Fielding these kicks fullback Herrin ran the ball back, jinking his way through the defence keeping Norton on the front foot. The home side’s defence seemed to be holding fast and it looked that Norton may lose by one point for the second week running, but Taylor crossed the line taking the score to 21-25.
Now in the dying minutes of the game Oldfield threw everything into attack but the visitors defence held firm. Norton closed out the game, and when the eighty minutes had been played Abbott was able to calmly kick the ball off the field to claim the win.
25th Nov 2017
Midsomer Norton 31 Chosen Hill FP 32
Norton started the game against Chosen Hill FP well and quickly took an early lead, with an unconverted try. J Rose scoring the first of his three tries of the day. But they were unable to take the several other chances leaving at least three try scoring opportunities go begging.
For the second week running Norton’s strong pack attained total dominance at the scrummage, but the team were unable to make this possession pay.
Surviving the initial pressure Chosen Hill capitalised well on numerous mistakes that the home side were making while running the ball from deep inside there half. This allowed them to kick to the corner repeatedly, using a well-rehearsed catch and drive lineout the visitors built up a 21-point lead at the break.
Now playing with the Norton Down breeze, the home team set about chasing the visitors total and quickly closed the gap to 24-26 with Button and Rose scoring from close range.
Ill-discipline allowed Chosen Hill to extend their lead with a well taken penalty goal.
The home side eventually took the lead when their fifth try of the game, scored by Button, was converted by Abbott, taking the score to 31-29. But another Chosen Hill penalty allowed them to regain the lead 31 -32.
As the game came to a close, one player from each side was sin binned due to multiple push and shoves after the whistle had blown. Norton tried to keep the tempo up and their opposition trying to slow it down. Unsurprisingly, a Chosen Hill front row forward was suddenly deemed injured, forcing uncontested scrums removing the obvious home side’s advantage .
In the end it was the two kickable penalties given away by Norton in the second half that allowed the visitors to escape with the win. Although collecting two bonus points this must be a disappointing result for the home team.
18th Nov 2017
Bridgewater 61 Midsomer Norton 17
After a week of discussions on whether to honour this weekend’s Somerset Cup match against higher placed Bridgwater, common sense prevailed, and Norton travelled with a mixed squad of players, some with no 1st team experience at all.
Starting well, early pressure nearly brought Norton the first points but prop Edgell was stopped short.
Bridgwater recovered from this shock and responded getting on the score board first, profiting from a break in midfield, but Norton quickly responded with score of their own. Rose benefitted from a catch and drive at a lineout close to the line, to dot the ball down. Rideout converted, levelling the score at 7-7. Norton by now had taken complete dominance in the scrummage driving the home pack backwards and seemingly winning the ball against the head at will.
Bridgewater scored a second converted try before, backrow Button playing in a slightly different position than normal, No8, forced his way over the line, closing the gap to 14-12.
As the half came to a close Norton was under huge amount of pressure with Bridgwater camped on their try line. In one defensive stint, second row Knight suffered a knee injury and was forced to leave the field. When the whistle blew for the break the score was 26-12.
Following the half time break Bridgwater struck quickly scoring three tries taking the game away from Norton. This did not mean that Norton gave up the fight, far from it, they tightened up the game and controlled position and possession for the next twenty minutes. The forward power kept Bridgwater under the cosh with numerous scrummages close to the line. Although, Norton were awarded penalty after penalty the referee did not take things further. Norton only managed one score in the half with Schuster collecting a try.
The score line finished 61-17 in the home side’s favour, but the Norton coach should be pleased as he had the opportunity to see the abilities, under pressure, of some of the players not normally in the 1st team squad. Every one of these players stepped up to the plate and did the club proud, they should all take confidence from their performances against high opposition.
11th Nov 2017
Chew Valley 21 Midsomer Norton 10
Norton started this local derby well but in their urgency to score points made too many small handling errors to capitalised on their possession. The front five led the way, with their domination of the set piece, as they destroyed the home side’s scrummage.
On one of the few occasions that Chew Valley got into Norton territory they came away with points scoring from a driven lineout.
Norton kept the pressure on the home side with their strong forward runners, carrying the ball. Second row Gimson made a strong run but was brought down short. Chew Valley were forced to offend at the ruck to deprive Norton clean scoring ball and were penalised. Taylor slotted the penalty. Gimson was forced through injury to leave the field of play soon after.
Midsomer Norton took the lead just before half time when eventually, the referee accepted the domination Norton had in the scrummage and penalised the home front row for collapsing. Deciding to kick for the lineout, the jumpers won the ball allowing Norton to set up a maul and drive hooker Rose, over the line. Taylor added the extra points giving Norton a 7-10 lead at the break
Chew Valley started the second half well and quickly set up positions in the bottom corner of their pitch and scored two tries within the first ten minutes of the second period. The first was set up a from driving maul following a line out close to the Norton line, the home side crossed the line to score a converted try. Keeping the pressure on in Norton twenty-two Chew span the ball wide to their strong backs who eventually scored in the opposite corner.
Recovering from the initial set back the Norton team controlled long periods of the half. One promising attack was stopped when flyhalf Abbott was tripped, surprisingly the offending player was not disciplined by the official. Norton suffered an injury to their replacement second row Goddard who was taken off with a suspected dislocated shoulder, Gimson was forced to return.
Norton spent long periods putting pressure on the Chew line, but the home defence held firm. Chew Valley deserved the win, but Norton will be disappointed with the loss of the loosing point bonus point.
4th Nov 2017
Midsomer Norton 31 Winscombe 17
Norton started well with their big runners Button Denning Jenner and Goddard making big dents in the visitors’ defence, but it held firm. The home crowd thought centre Martin had forced his way over but was stopped short. When the ball recycled, it was fed to fullback Herrin who crossed the line but was denied, as was judged to have been held up. Prop Edgell was the first to score as he forced his way over from some distance after 10 minutes.
Keeping the pressure on for most the half it still took another twenty minutes before Gimson, taking a quick close-range penalty, extended the Norton lead. Captain Fear added to the scoreboard with a converted try just before the half time break, taking the score to 17-0.
Winscombe who had looked threatening all through first half started the second forty minutes well. They quickly put together an attack and a lapse in the concentration of the home defence allowed Winscombe to open their score tally. Buoyed by this score, Winscombe closed the gap within a few minutes with a second unconverted try.
Having just joined the fray, replacement number 8 Rose forced his way over the line, with a some of from the weight of his fly half, Abbott. Taylor added the long-range conversion
Ten minutes into the half Norton were reduced to 14 men when 2nd row Goddard was yellow carded for high tackle. Making the most of the extra man Winscombe moved the ball well to collect a converted try closing the gap.
Five minutes from the close, Fullback Herrin made certain of the win, scoring, for the second week running, an unaided long range try.
Next week Norton are on the road to play old rivals Chew Valley, looking to gain their second win away from home.
28th Oct 2017
Bristol Saracens 11 MNRFC 34
Receiving the kick off Norton found themselves playing up the slight slope but in to a stiff breeze. The ball was collected by Goddard and the team immediately set about putting pressure on the home side working their way into the opposition half. They quickly collected the first points of the day with a well taken penalty from Ben Taylor. Saracens replied with a penalty of their own to level the score.
The pack set about carrying the ball into the strengthening wind with Fear, Jenner and Goddard leading the way. Having set up some good attacking positions, Norton found themselves applying more pressure deep in the Saracens half, Joe Button was able to make a characteristic strong carry, offloading to Hooker Mitch Rose who was on hand to crash over from short range.
Saracens reduced the gap with a second penalty. Saracens regularly kicked to try and keep the play in the Norton half this allowed fullback Herrin to easily collect the ball and return it with interest. On one occasion Herrin gathered a Saracens clearance kick just outside his twenty-two, as he weaved his way up the pitch using his pace the gaps in the defence opened up, allowing him to score untouched. With the conversion slotted Norton had a 6-15 lead. But, Saracens finished the half with a try, to close the gap to 4 points 11-15. The Norton half time lead had been built on a brilliant defensive performance lead and organised by centre Martin.
Now playing with the elements the Norton team quickly extended their lead when Herrin scored his second in the right-hand corner, with the conversion completed Norton had a stranglehold on the game.
Winning turn over ball in their own 22m Taylor started an attack, the ball was passed slickly through the Norton backline to winger Church. He beat a number of defenders before popping the ball back inside to the ever-present backrow Clark, running a supporting line was able to run in unopposed to touch down for Nortons 4th try of the afternoon, securing the bonus point.
Norton’s final try came from a powerful scrummage, scrumhalf Schuster picked up at the base and scored from a classic blindside break, this took the final score to 11-34.
This was Midsomer Norton’s first win on the road, built on a well organised defence in the face of a strong wind for the first forty minutes.
21st Oct 2017
Midsomer Norton 19 Old Bristolians 22
Old Bristolians playing up the hill into a very strong wind made a good start to the game controlling the game in the home side’s half. Being forced to defend, Norton fell foul of the referee’s early decisions. Old Bristolians took a three-point lead from the resulting penalty
Norton started to get in their stride with the forwards carrying ball strongly. Captain Fear was able to break through the Bristolian's defence, offloading to James Abbott who was tackled short of the line, only for the ball to be recycled allowing young Scrum Half Schuster to score under the posts.
The visitors worked hard to keep the ball and broke through the home defence to take the lead, but Norton regained the lead with a second converted try when Button crashed over.
The half finished 14-8 to the home side, Norton now literally had a forty-minute uphill battle to defend their slim lead.
Making the most of the elements, kicking well for territory it was Old Bristolians who were the first to score in the second half. A neat kick through behind the defence allowed the chasing player to collect the ball and score, the conversion regained the lead for the visitors.
Old Bristolians extended their lead to eight points, but Norton regrouped and strong running from forwards Button and Jenner supported by backs Herrin and Jefferies started to create chances.
Norton found themselves camped in the oppositions 22 for a long period of time within the second half and after a series of pick and go drives from the Norton forwards, prop Mitch Rose drove over the line in an attempt to score but was held up by the very well organised defence.
The Norton players did not give up and kept pressurising the visitors defence until flanker Clarke, capped a fine game, with a try to close the gap to three points.
This was a game that slipped away from Norton who will regret, not taking advantage of the elements in the first half and not converting the possession they had within the final third into points.
7th Oct 2017
Cheltenham 31Midsomer Norton 12
After the long journey Norton started the better of the two teams putting pressure on the home side. This ensured the game was being played predominantly in the Cheltenham half. Unfortunately, influential forward Gimson, was injured after the first few minutes and following a Head Injury Assessment was denied the opportunity of returning to the field of play. One missed tackle allowed Cheltenham out of the strangle hold and they made the most of it, to collect the first try of the game, this was converted.
Norton continued with the pressure but little handling mistakes stopped any scoring chances. From a lineout in the Cheltenham twenty-two metre area Norton caught and drove towards the line as the maul ground to a halt Button slide off the side to score Norton’s first points. Taylor hit the wood work with the conversion attempt.
Norton just could not convert pressure into points with two scoring chances being denied when one was adjudged to have been held up over the line in one attack and then winger Oakley knocking on in the act of scoring from a well-judged, crossfield kick. Cheltenham scored a second try taking the score to 12-5 at the break
Early in the second half a serious injury to a Cheltenham player resulted in the game, after a long stoppage, being moved to an adjacent pitch. Cheltenham recovered from this disruption quicker of the two sides and made to most of the misfiring Norton line out to extend their lead with another converted try. Norton suffered another injury with No 8 Denning, being clattered in a tackle, eventually having to leave the field. The reshuffle did not help Norton’s fragile defence and they leaked another try, taking the score to 31-5. The last few minutes saw some frantic rugby with Norton benefiting with a converted try right on the final whistle.
Norton must start to perform on the road this was another game where the result could have been reversed. All at Midsomer Norton RFC wish the injured player, who waited on the floor for over an hour, for the ambulance to take him to hospital, well and a speedy recovery.
30th Sept 2017
Midsomer Norton 33 v 27 Wells
A large crowd of “Former Players” attended Norton Down to watch a fixture between two local teams who haven’t played each other in recent seasons. The Norton pack showed their power in the early minutes but Wells took the lead just after ten minutes with a penalty. Midsomer Norton drew level a few minutes later with a penalty by Taylor. Playing into the wind the visitors kicked well for position and from a lineout close to the Norton line set up a driving maul. The referee adjudged Norton to have stopped the drive illegally and awarded a penalty try. Norton then suffered another injury worry when centre Martin had to leave the field and the backline had to reshuffle, with Blackmore joining the field.
Wells took advantage of this and extended their lead with a try from a quickly taken penalty.
The home pack destroyed the opposition scrummage close to the Well’s line and the Norton forwards swarmed over the line and in the confusion flanker Button was awarded the try. Now in the ascendency the forwards set up a driving maul at a lineout and steam rolled over the line with hooker Rose collecting the try. With Taylor slotting a conversion it looked like Norton would go into the break with the lead, but in the dying moments of the half, Wells finished off a move to score in the corner. This gave Wells a one-point lead at the break, 19-20.
Now playing down the slope and the wind at their backs Wells started the second half well and extended their slender lead after nine minutes with a converted try. Norton’s pack continued to harass and pressurise the visitors into mistakes and repeatedly won opposition ball at the set piece.
This possession allowed the Norton backs some attacking ball and a well worked move finished with flyhalf Abbott ghosted over in the right hand corned to reduce the deficit. Taylor added the extra points again to make it a one-point game, 26-27. In the last minutes of the game Wells were camped on the Norton 22metre line, when replacement Church pounced on a loose ball and sprinted the 80m up the slope to the Wells try line. He was caught right on the line but was able to get the ball down to score. Again, Fly half Taylor slotted the conversion extending Norton’s lead to 6 points 33-27.
This left just enough time for Wells to restart the game, Norton safely gathered the ball from the kick and put the ball into touch to finish the game and collect their third win of the season.
Next week Norton are back on the road to Cheltenham.
23rd Sept 2017
Stroud 45 V Midsomer Norton 28
Norton travelled to Dudbridge Hill to play Stroud for the first time in their history.
The home side started the game the better of the two teams and took a seven-point lead with in the first few minutes. Norton’s forwards slowly got into the game making the home pack work hard in the tight exchanges.
An attacking lineout gave Norton their first chance of scoring with a catch and forward drive before Button slid off the side to score. Stroud kicked for territory using the breeze, this gave the Norton back three plenty of opportunities to carry the ball forward with Fullback Jeffery gaining the most metres. He was joined by back row players Button and Clarke relishing the open space Stroud allowed the visitors around the half way line
Missed touch kicks allowed Stroud a good attacking opportunity which the home side made the most of scoring two tries. Winger Oakley kicked a penalty to keep Norton with in touch with their hosts.
As the half-ended Norton were putting massive pressure on the Stroud try line, Denning was pulled back after crossing the line for a forward pass. The home defence eventually broke when prop Jenner crossed the line to close the gap to 6 points at the break.
Shortly after the half time break Button now playing at No8 carried the ball towards Stroud’s line and popped the ball up to scrum half Johnson to collect the try. The forwards kept the pressure on the oppositions’ scrum which allowed Johnson to snipe from the base and after selling a dummy he was able to run through a gap in the defence to touch down underneath the posts.
Stroud responded with a very well taken try and Norton’s woes continued as fly half Abbott was injured in a collision. Centre, Martin poached a ball from the opposition on the half way line but was hauled down before he could offload to Mattick who was free on his left-hand side. Unfortunately, with this chance gone begging the team capitulated, and let the home side score two easy tries at the end of the game, taking the final score to 45-28.
It was a sad day for the team as they had to say goodbye to their physio of many years Beth as she is moving to Sale with husband Russell, the Club sends them both their best wishes for the future.
Next week sees Norton host local rivals Wells which should be played in front of a big crowd as President Rowles is hosting a Former Player’s Day.
16th Sept 2017
Midsomer Norton 40 V 38 Coney Hill
Norton entertained Coney hill for the second time the year, as the visitors had travelled down for a preseason friendly.
Playing down the slope Norton started strongly putting early pressure on the visitors 22m area but Coney Hill were able to break the stranglehold and went the length of the field to score a converted try. Norton immediately went back on the offensive and fly half Abbott changed the point of attack with a cross field kick, which winger Oakley collected and scored in the right-hand corner, levelling the score.
The Norton forwards were winning the tight battles especially in the scrummage where, they were really causing damage. This dominance allowed no 8 Denning to power over from an advancing scrum to put the home side into the lead, Taylor adding the conversion.
With the return of Gimson and hooker Rose, last week’s problems in the line out had been sorted out and was again a good source of ball and the team were able to disrupt the opposition possession. The home pack big runners took every opportunity to carry the ball and after a series of drives fly half Abbott was on hand to collect a pass from Denning to score.
While Norton were resting on their laurels Coney Hill replied straight away with a try. The forward regained their dominance and driving for the line Coney Hill’s only option was to infringe to stop a try and Norton were awarded a penalty try.
Coney Hill finished the half strongly with their very dangerous backs finally receiving some good attacking ball scored two tries with one being converted to bring the scores level 26-26 at the break.
Coney Hill started the second half as they finished the first, causing Norton’s defence problems and were the first to score regaining the lead for the first time since the opening minutes.
The Norton team seemed un-phased by being behind on the scoreboard and continued to play with confidence causing Coney Hill problems in both the forwards and backs.
The Coney Hill defence was being stretched but held fast, until after receiving a number of yellow cards for infringements, finally broke and gave away their second penalty try of the game bringing the scores level again, at 33 all. Shortly after this the Norton supporters thought they team had retaken the lead but the try was disallowed.
Coney Hill reorganised and restarted quickly scoring an unconverted try at the other end of the pitch through another fine attack from their back line.
Only needing a converted try to regain the lead the home side set up camp on the visitors 22m line. Coney Hill were now back to full numbers and now required to contest the scrummage, an area where Norton had a clear advantage. Strangely, a sudden injury to a Coney Hill prop forced the use uncontested scrums again removing the clear home advantage.
As the game came to a close, Norton threw everything into attack, the ball was moved to the top touch with both forwards and backs involved. After a few phases, the visitors defence was stretched, the ball was carried back inside to the flyhalf channel where Denning crashed over the line and managed to free himself from the defenders and get the ball to ground.
Fly half Taylor calmly slotted the conversion to win the game 40-38. The game had been a thoroughly entertaining match with neither side’s supporters being confident of the win until the final whistle.
9th Sept 2017
Old Richians 19pts V 12pts Midsomer Norton
Norton travelled to Gloucester to play Old Richian’s for the 1st time in many seasons and were welcomed by thunderstorms just before kick-off. Having started the brighter of the two teams a lapse in Norton’s concentration allowed the home side to score the first points, with a try in the right-hand corner. Fly half Taylor then put Norton in the lead with two penalty goals. Norton then lost Jamie Rose due to injury, with a suspected fractured fibula. Luckily the visit to hospital showed the injury to be less serious. For the second week in a row the pack had to reorganize.
Taylor kept the score board ticking over with a third penalty, but Old Richian’s closed the gap again with a penalty of their own. Neither team could take control of the game and the half finished 11-12 in Norton’s favour having swapped penalties again.
In the second half Old Richian’s started to put more pressure on Norton with a strong driving maul from which they eventually scored a converted try.
Norton were the victims of their own mistakes, the lineout faltered and the number of handling errors in the poor conditions was too high. They were also issued three yellow cards in the second half for minor offences. As the game came to a close it looked like Norton would get that elusive try to win the game but little mistakes stopped them crossing the line. The team returned from Gloucester with just a disappointing losing bonus point.
Next week the team are at home playing Coney Hill.
2nd Sept 2017
Midsomer Norton 32 - 12 Yatton
Having played several preseason friendlies MNRFC embarked on their league campaign with Yatton visiting Norton Down. The fine weather encouraged a large crowd to attend, who hoped to see a free-flowing game of rugby. In the opening exchanges, the visitors came off best, scoring a converted try after six minutes.
After this initial setback, the home side got into their stride and closed down Yatton’s lively scrum half depriving the visitor’s attacking opportunities. With the forwards winning some great attacking ball fly half Abbott released his backs allowing winger Herrin to score his debut try in the left-hand corner. Five minutes later took the lead when prop Jenner forced his way over the line and with the conversion completed Norton took a five-point lead.
Norton extended their lead when hard working flanker Clark scored the side’s third try taking the score to 17-7 at the break.
Straight after the break Norton suffered their second setback of the day when captain Fear was forced to leave the field due to injury. This situation was almost immediately compounded when Fear’s replacement Goddard was also forced to leave with a knee injury.
While Norton were reorganising their pack the visitors took the opportunity to close the deficit bringing the score to 17-12. Yatton now playing down the slope put the home side under pressure but the new defensive strategy held fast and deprived the visitors any further points.
Button scored the team’s forth try after a series of powerful forward drives.
As the game was coming to a close flanker Sawkins scored the teams fifth try, this was converted by Taylor finishing his kicking game well having previously hit the posts three times.
Next week see the team on the road to Gloucester to play Old Richians.
Saturday 21st April 2018
Yatton 31 MNRFC 38
As in recent games Norton started the game slowly, letting the home side score two early converted tries. Still only minutes into the game Norton’s problems were increased when winger Herrin had to leave the field with an injury. Although the Norton forwards Jenner, Fear, Denning and Rose carried the ball well into the home side, small handling errors and missed tackles, allowed Yatton to build up a convincing lead. Norton’s reorganised backline Martin, Mattick and Mitchard worked hard to stem the flow but the Yatton back three always seemed to have an extra man in attack and racked up a twenty-six point lead. The Norton pack was made to work hard in the tight, but the front row of Bicknell Rose and Jenner were up to the task.
Norton were awarded a line out close to the Yatton line, Fear won the ball, which was fed to flanker Button who scored under the posts to collect Norton’s first points, Taylor converted. Poor defence again allowed Yatton to score again to get a twenty-four point lead 31-7 at half time.
Yatton continued to pressurise straight after the break but the Norton team seemed to come alive and want to finish the season on a high. They tightened up the defence, with S.Knight tying up the dangerous Yatton winger and stopped the small handling errors.
Prop Jenner led the way carrying the ball out of defence up to halfway giving the team forward momentum. As the move progressed Martin was on hand to finish it off and take the points, Taylor added the extras. Clark and Schuster joined in the attacks from deep, and from one, the ball was recycled, and Denning was on hand to crash over to score. Again, Taylor added the extra points.
Sawkins having changed position moving up into hooker from the second row collected the teams fourth try, yet again Tayler added the conversion by now replacements J.Knight and Herbert were on the field adding fresh legs and energy to the game and the team, who’s fitness has been questioned were looking to a man much fresher of the two sides.
Martin scored his second try to give Norton the lead, Taylor added the extra points taking Norton four points clear. Taylor, then extended their lead to seven points from a penalty goal. All Norton had to do now, was to collect the ball from the restart and retain possession for the last few minutes. This they did, and Abbott was able to kick the ball off the pitch to win the half and the last game of the season.
Wednesday 18th April 2018
Winscombe 37 MNRFC 20
On Wednesday evening Norton travelled over the Mendips to Winscombe, for this rearranged league fixture, having been forced by the South West Competitions Committee to play midweek under lights.
As in recent weeks Norton started slowly, allowing Winscombe to score first and build up a 10-point lead before Taylor slotted a penalty for Norton’s first points. It was obvious that the game meant a lot more to the home side who needed a bonus point win to make them safe in the league whereas Norton were comfortably clear of any relegation battles. Norton allowed Winscombe to score three tries before Norton crossed the line for a score of their own. The half ended 22-8 in Winscombe’s favour.
Norton were slow to start the second half as they had the first and this allowed Winscombe to score their fourth try. This seemed to kick start some of the Norton players who led by Button carried the ball hard into their opposition, making Winscombe defend for the first time in the game. Unfortunately, the home side knew their pitch well and used the slope putting boot to ball to clear their lines keeping Norton pegged back in their own half.
Scrum half Schuster tried to pick the pace of Norton’s game up by making a break up the middle of the pitch this allowed Martin to score the team’s second try of the night. Rose scored Norton’s third try which was converted by Taylor bringing the score to 27-20. Winscombe increased their efforts and scored a penalty goal and a converted try to end winners 37-20.
Norton need to look back on games like this to improve their game management for next season.
14th April 2018
Avonmouth 71- Midsomer Norton 36
Avonmouth caught Norton cold in the first minute of this high scoring match, crossing the try line out wide, on the right-hand side to score the first points. Avonmouth extended their lead to fourteen points before Norton shook the journey out of their legs and started to put some unbroken play together. Scrum half S. Knight was given some quality ball, allowing Taylor to put Martin and Jeffery in space to attack the home team. From one move Holmewood fed the ball, out of the tackle to Denning who finished off the last 25 metres of the move, to score under the posts. Taylor, added the extra points. Both sets of were taking advantage of the fine weather to play some great entertaining rugby, with the Rose brothers, Jenner and Button all carrying the ball well.
Clark carried the ball out of the Norton half, he was supported by Martin and Jeffery, before the ball was recycled by Bicknell and Fear. The ball was fed to Jeffery who dived under the posts to score Norton’s second try. Taylor again added the conversion. Avonmouth, then replied scoring two more tries, one from a good catch and drive from a lineout the second from a simple kick and chase.
As the half was ending a sliced kick from the Norton fullback gifted Avonmouth the final score of the 40 minutes, which ended 40-17 in Avonmouth’s favour.
Norton started the second half the same way as the first, giving away a converted try within a few seconds. An injury to Snelling forced Herbert to join the game in the unfamiliar position of wing.
After the reorganisation Norton started to continually pressurise the home team’s defence. The centre partnership of Mattick and Martin had caused problems all game for Avonmouth and following a break in midfield Martin crossed the line to collect the teams third try. Fullback Jeffery sustained a rib injury forcing another reshuffle with Button joining the backs and Joe Knight slotting in the pack. He joined his brother Sam, the side now had two sets of brothers representing Norton.
Norton had a long period of pressure on the Avonmouth line, during which the referee adjudged to ball to be held up over the line. In a five metre scrummage, replacement hooker Sawkins, struck the ball, allowing number 8 Denning to score his second try. This was off the back of the dominate Norton scrummage. The home team now had their best period of the game scoring three un-answered tries before the relentless efforts of the Norton team resulted in hooker Rose, scoring the teams fifth try.
Although what seemed, due to the score, to be a hammering, on the pitch it was a much closer game, with some good performances in attack, let down by some lack of concentration in defence.
7th April 2018
Midsomer Norton 32 Oldfield 19
After some early morning rain, the game started in fine weather and it seemed that both teams intended to make the most of the good conditions.
Norton had some early pressure, but it was Oldfield, making the most of the slope and breeze, who scored first, recycling the ball from an attack on their left-hand side they moved the ball wide and scored in the opposite corner. The visitors tried to keep the home side pinned deep in their own territory, but Norton players Herrin, Schuster, Jeffery and J.Rose carried the ball back at them, while fly half Abbott used the boot to clear the lines.
Norton’s forwards after gaining field position started to take control and a series of forward drives close to the line, set up the first try when, prop Bicknell crossed to level the scores.
With the line out functioning well, thanks to M.Rose Knight and Fear, and producing good ball, Abbott could use the boot to gain ground, keeping the forward momentum. From one attack Knight collected the ball some 40m from the line and out stripped the covering defence to score Norton’s 2nd try, just before the 30min mark. Taylor added the extra points with the conversion.
Norton’s lead was extended on the half an hour mark with a third try, a typical rampaging run by flanker Button was finished off when he scored under the posts. Again, the try was converted by Taylor. In reply, Oldfield scored a converted try closing the gap to seven points. Norton suffered a setback, when Rideout was forced to leave the field with what looked like a serious shoulder injury, he was replaced by Dyer.
Norton responded just before the break with a try by Herrin, again this was converted by Taylor taking the score at the break to 27-12.
Comfortably in the lead Norton played the second half with a lot of energy but, wasted opportunities to extend the lead. Until, on the 60-minute mark an attack started by Martin deep in Norton’s territory gave Herrin the opportunity to run fifty metres before being hauled down. Knight was on hand finish off the move and score his second try, taking the Norton tally over 30 points. With only two minutes left on the clock and with a bit of fatigue setting in after their hard-fought mid-week semi-final, Norton’s defence allowed Oldfield to score their third try of the match. This was the final score of the game which finished 32-19 in Norton’s favour.
The win was built on a strong set piece led by Jenner reinforced by Williams in the second period, the work rate of the back-row players Herbert, Button, Rose and Clark and a solid defence led again by centre Martin.
4th April 2018
Bath Combination Cup Semi Final
Midsomer Norton 13 Keynsham 13
Circumstances beyond the club’s control forced Norton to play the semi-final of the Bath Combination Cup against Keynsham at Broad Plain in Bristol, losing the advantage of the home fixture. At the start neither side could take control of the game with both having sustained periods of pressure in their opposition’s half. Keynsham were first to break the deadlock with a penalty goal.
They extended their lead with a converted try following a five metre scrummage before Taylor slotted a penalty to collect Norton’s first points of the evening. The first half continued with both teams having the upper hand for periods, but the defences held firm. The Norton side made an uncharacteristic number of unforced handling errors, these may have been due to playing under floodlights, stopping them build a good attacking platform.
The second half saw Norton cut out these mistakes and competed hard at the breakdown depriving Keynsham of good ball. As the half progress Norton’s fitness and power kept the pressure on their opponents.
Centre Mitchard, crashed over to score a try converted making the contest a three-point game but was injured in the process and forced to leave the field of play. As the game moved into the last quarter Norton were the stronger of the two sides keeping their opponents on the back foot and gained another penalty, this tied the game at thirteen all.
At the eighty-minute mark the referee called a halt to the proceedings with the scores still deadlocked. As per the competition rules Keynsham were awarded the win as they were in effect the away team, no extra time is allowed in the games preceding the final.
The players from both sides seemed unhappy with the way the evening ended, but Keynsham move on to play in the final against Chippenham on Wednesday evening at Bath Recreation Ground.
24th March 2018
Chosen Hill FP 39 Midsomer Norton 36
The home side started the brighter of the two teams, trying to spread the ball wide, this allowed them to collect the first points of the game with a try in the corner. Norton’s forwards started to get into the game, keeping the ball tight and depriving Chosen Hill possession. This pressure produced a lineout on the twenty-two metre line, after the ball was caught by Knight, the pack set up a strong drive taking the game up to the five metre line. With a ruck set up prop Jenner picked and drove to score Norton’s 1st try, Rideout added the extra points.
The back row of Denning Button and Clark carried the ball well linking with Schuster, Mattick and Jeffery taking the game to the home-side. A kick ahead by Rideout was chased down by Herrin who touched down just before the ball went out of the dead ball area, collecting the second of Norton’s trys. Again, the conversion was added taking the score to 5-14. Norton now seemed to sit back on their laurels taking their foot off the pedal. This allowed the lively Chosen Hill team to get back into the game and score three tries with only another Rideout penalty in reply.
Norton did have chances that were squandered the best being a drive from the lineout which the referee adjudged to have been blocked illegally, but it was the number of unforced errors and balls striped in the tackle that kept Chosen Hill in the game. The half ended with the home side having a five-point lead 22-17.
Chosen Hill carried their momentum into the second half quickly scoring three more tries taking them into what seemed to be an unassailable 22point lead.
After not being in the game for twenty minutes Norton decided to start playing rugby again putting together some good attacking play. Centre, Mattick was the first to benefit from this increased energy and Rideout again added the conversion.
In the last few minutes of the game another attack was stopped by Chosen Hill right on line but, from the resulting five metre scrummage number 8 J.Rose picked up and drove over to score, again Rideout converted for the extra points. A penalty closed the gap to 8 points and Norton had all the energy with Chosen Hill seemingly out on their feet. Hunting the win Captain Fear scores a try reducing the deficit further but the clock was against them giving the home side the win.
Although disappointed with the 39-36 loss Norton claimed two bonus points, knowing that this was a game that had got away.
17th March 2018
Wells 22 Midsomer Norton 0
Norton travelled over the Mendips with a much-changed side to play local rivals Wells only to find the pitch to be extremely heavy and wet. Starting the game playing down the hill,Norton struggled to control field position and had to defend for large periods of the half. An early injury to Mitchard gave Ben Matthews his first chance at first team rugby in his new chosen position, centre.
Schuster did his best to give the Norton side so go forward,sniping around the breakdown and he was well supported by Mattick, Clark and Knight, but the home side closed the game down depriving Norton any territory. Captain Fear was forced to temporally leave the field to received medical attention when a cut received last weekend opened up, just before half time. Wells kept a strangle hold on the game for the first 40 minutes and the half ended 7-0 in the home side’s favour.
At half time the Norton team knew they were going to have to increase their efforts but felt a win was still possible. The front row Bicknell, Williams and Rose worked hard in the scrummage to secure ball before Bicknell left the field with Denning stepping up into the row. J. Rose joined the field as replacement for Clark before both Herbert and himself became permanent with a back-row reshuffle.
Wells used the elements and their knowledge of the pitch to keep Norton pinned back into their own half, forcing them to put in some last-ditch defence right on their line. Button,Murphy and Dyer did their best to carry the ball forward while Rideout and Abbott used their boots to relieve the pressure to no avail.
The home side deserved the win but the score line of 22-0 flattered them especially as one try was scored from a forward pass.
Bath Combination Cup
11th March 2018
Midsomer Norton 27 Bath University 22
On Sunday the first team faced Bath University in the quarter finals of the Bath Combination Cup
The University started the brighter of the two teams as Norton were trying to run the fatigue out of their legs, following Saturday’s hard-fought league fixture. Bath Uni used this advantage to take an early lead though a try scored out wide. They soon scored a second converted try before Norton opened their account with a penalty from Taylor. With the weather worsening the home pack started to take control of the possession and the game.
Hooker Sawkins scored Norton’s first try of the day and with the conversion slotted, they only trailed by two points. The University repeatedly kicked for territory but not touch, this allowed Norton’s back three of Murphy, Herrin and Jeffery to carry the ball back up the slope and into their defence. Once the ball was in front of them the home pack took the ball on through their strong runners of Clark, Denning and Gimson. The pack’s dominance allowed Denning to score and Norton to take the lead with the score board reading 15-12 at the break.
Now playing down the hill Norton continued to dominate keeping the University on the back foot and in their own half. A change in the front row made no difference to the scrummage and they continued to collect penalties as the University could not cope with the pressure.
Fly half Abbott scored from a simple 8,9,10 move off of the dominate scrum and flanker Clarke scored his second in two days sitting on the back of a driving maul. Norton now had a 12 point or two score lead going into the final minutes of the game. The students now threw everything into a do or die effort and launched an attack from deep in their own half. While the home side’s forwards were otherwise engaged the students scored under the posts to bring the score to 27-22 but no time left on the clock to win the game.
This was a great win especially as the home players had represented the club in hard fought games 24 hours before and the young students had been resting
10th March 2018
Midsomer Norton 28 Chew Valley 24
With no rugby at Norton Down last week due to the snow, it was good to see the pitch in good condition. Both sides seemed a bit rusty after the enforced break, making mistakes and giving away penalties.
Rideout was the first to benefit from a mistake when he kicked an early penalty to open the score. The heavier Norton forwards used the slope well gaining ground setting up driving mauls from lineouts and carrying well with Clarke, Button and Rose leading the way. Schuster kept the momentum up mixing the play well.
After 20 minutes the visitors scored their first points when pressure from a lineout, allowed a Chew centre to pick a good line to carry the ball over the try line to take the lead. Ten minutes later the visitors scored their second try when, they reacted the quicker of the teams, after a Norton clearance kick was charged down. The conversion gave Chew Valley a 3-12 lead.
Chew Valley repeatedly tried to carry the ball out of defence but, on one occasion Rideout read the pass. He collected the interception and sprinted over the line to score unopposed. When the extra points were added with the help of the post, the half ended with Chew Valley having a slim two-point lead 10-12.
Early in the second half Taylor slotted a penalty to take a one-point lead. Playing up the slope into the breeze Norton put together their best period of play carrying the ball deep into the Chew Valley territory, putting the visitors defence under pressure. This lead to an infringement allowing Taylor another penalty goal. Herrin who had repeatedly tried to run the ball out of defence finally got his rewards when he scored in the corner. Again, the extra points were added by Taylor 23-12.
Chew now, but together a sustained period of pressure and eventually the home side’s defence cracked when they scrum half dummied over from a five-metre scrum. One of Chew’s front row took the conversion adding the extra points keeping Chew in the hunt 23-19.
With the game coming to a close Chew Valley scored a try to take a one-point lead. With only two minutes left on the clock they thought this would be the final nail in Norton’s coffin, but the home side had different ideals.
Having been gifted possession by a Chew Valley loose kick, they now put together an attack gradually gaining field position. Norton now knew they had to keep the ball alive or the final whistle would end the game. With the clock deep into the red zone fly half Abbott, with the knowledge the ref was playing advantage put in a cross-field kick. Jeffery contested for the ball with the Chew Valley winger ball but, neither could collect cleanly. The ball had been knocked backwards allowing the supporting Herrin to pick up and score easily in the corner.
This took the score to 28-24 and the final whistle, giving Norton their first well deserved victory over Chew Valley in many years.
24th Feb 2018
Midsomer Norton 27 Cheltenham 10
Norton started this rearranged game by playing down the slope but into a strong northerly breeze. They seemed slow to start with a number of unforced errors and their lineout misfiring, these unusual errors allowed Cheltenham to take the lead with an early penalty. Strong running from ball carriers Mitchard, Denning and Jeffery took the ball deep into the heart of visitors’ defence. At one stoppage Norton reacted the quicker of the two sides, the ball was fed to scrumhalf Schuster who sniped over the line to collect the home side’s first points, with the conversion kicked they took a 7-3 lead.
Through the boot of fly half Abbott Norton now started to control some field position and a 5m line out was won at the front by Captain Fear. From the following drive prop Bicknell received the ball at the back of the maul, he slid off the side to score the team’s 2nd try taking the score to 12-3.
Cheltenham fought back to score a converted try before the break, closing the gap to two points
The second half saw forwards Rose, Button and Knight carrying hard, these runs forced a penalty from the defenders, when kicked it moved the score up to 15-10 in the home team’s favour.
Full back Jeffery joined in the attacking moves whenever possible and made a break up the left-hand wing. He fed the ball inside to back row Clarke who as ever was on hand to provide support, he finished the move running in unopposed to score the side’s third try.
Fly half Abbott kicked well putting the ball behind the Cheltenham back line giving the chasing backs Mattick, Taylor and T. Rideout opportunities to put the defenders under pressure forcing errors. The visitors now had a good period of pressure making Norton’s defence work hard and the game became very intense. With the game becoming fractious, the referee decided to yellow card a player from both sides to keep control. As Norton’s number 8 Denning left the pitch with the Cheltenham’s number 6 there was no animosity between the pair.
While both sides were down to fourteen players, Schuster claimed his second try and with the conversion added Norton now had a seventeen-point lead. Williams joined the field and taking the middle position in the front row, between props Jenner and Rose, immediately took two balls against the head. In the final quarter of the game Williams also carried the ball well as did Herrin and J. Rideout.
Although scoring four tries, the teams great defence under pressure near their line, keeping the second half score sheet clean, must have pleased the home team’s coach.
17th Feb 2018
MNRFC 24 Bristol Saracens 19
Following the weather enforced break it was good to have some senior rugby at Norton Down with only the 2nd team to have played there since 13th Jan.
The visitors Bristol Saracens started the game well gaining possession in the home team’s half, despite getting in behind the Norton defence out wide they were unable to convert this early pressure into points. But it was Norton who kept the scoreboard ticking over, with penalties in the first quarter. The first try of the game was scored by backrow player Button, who carried the ball strongly throughout the afternoon. After being awarded a penalty Norton kicked to the corner and with the lineout running smoothly the ball was won, eventually finding its way to centre Mitchard, who found a gap in the Saracens defence scoring under the posts, taking it to 21-3.
After a series of phases the visitors closed the gap with a try of their own bringing the score to 21-8. Norton then dominated the final 10 minutes of the half deep in Saracens territory, but were unable to score after numerous chances.
Now, playing with both the slope and the stiff breeze Bristol Saracens played well keeping the play in Norton territory for long periods of time. This pressure eventually allowed Saracens to score their second try of the game.
Being starved of the ball Norton worked hard in defence, In a great attempt hooker Mitch Rose was able to hold up an attack denying the visitors of a try. Norton were finding it difficult to escape from their own twenty two, pressure then allowed Saracens to close the gap with two more penalties. This made it a three-point game.
As the game entered the final quarter, an infringement allowed Saracens a kickable penalty, which would bring the score level, but it was sent wide. This miss and Rideout’s long range penalty earlier in the game kept Norton in the lead. The home side finished the game the stronger of the two teams, controlling possession, but were unable to break down the visitor’s defence. In the final minutes of the game Norton were awarded a penalty, the home side’s kicker Taylor, kept his nerve to kick the penalty extending Norton’s slim lead. The game ended with a hard won 24-19 victory for the home side.
Next week Norton will look to make it 3 wins on the bounce as they host Cheltenham in one of the rearranged fixtures.
3rd Feb 2018
Old Bristolians 22 MNRFC 30
Not having played since the 13th Jan Norton visited Old Bristolians with the intent of reversing the 19-22 lost from earlier in the season, at Norton Down. Despite Norton having a lot of early pressure and territory, the home side took the early lead with an unconverted try. In reply from a series of break downs close to the Bristol side’s try line, Button picked up and dived over to level the scores.
The game settled into an even contest, with the two teams having contrasting styles, but neither able to break the deadlock. Rose Jr, Jenner, Fear and Swift all carried the ball well making strong runs into Old Bristolians territory, but the home team’s defence was strong close to their line.
Norton’s back three of Rideout, Herrin and Jeffery worked hard in the deteriorating conditions to run the ball back when the ball was kicked down the slope into Norton’s twenty-two. Disappointingly, an uncharacteristic defensive error resulted in a tackle being missed, letting Old Bristolians score in corner to regain the lead. Taylor reduced the lead with a penalty taking the score to 12-8 at the break.
Now playing with the slight slope Norton’s forward power really started to show. The back row of Denning, Button and Rose Sr were now winning the breakdowns, allowing scrumhalf Martin to control the game. Norton’s powerful scrummage now came into its own allowing Rose to score a pushover try, which was converted, giving Norton the lead for the first time. Soon after a catch and drive at a lineout allowed Knight to score the team’s third try.
Pressurising close to the Old Bristolians line Norton won a scrummage allowing No 8 Rose to pick up and dive over to score his second try of the day, giving Norton a thirteen-point lead.
Although the second half was being dominated by the pack, Norton’s backs Herrin Mattick, Taylor and Oakley led by fly half Abbott, looked dangerous throughout. The pack now had a few changes when Sawkins joined the front row and Herbert slotted into a rearranged back row, but this made no difference to their domination.
Full back Jeffery finally scored for the backs, having been stopped short earlier after a break from the halfway line, he finished off a move to score in the corner taking the score to 12-30.
With the job now done and only five minutes to go Norton relaxed, this allowed the home side to get two quick consolation scores, the game ended with a final score of 22-30, in Norton’s favour.
13th Jan 2018
Midsomer Norton 18 Stroud 29
Stroud having never visited Norton Down before started the better of the two teams. putting pressure on the home side and took an early lead with a penalty. This score seemed to wake Norton up who then took the game to the visitors, producing some good attacking ball. Centre Mattick was unlucky when he was beaten to the touch down by a Stroud player as he chased a kick through, then Mitchard celebrated his return to the 1st team with a try in the right-hand corner on the quarter of an hour mark.
Stroud used the pitch and conditions well to keep playing in the Norton territory and scored two tries the second a penalty try when Norton was penalised for collapsing the scrummage.
With the penalty try now giving the automatic full seven points, the conversion is not taken. Scrum half Martin took a quick kick-off catching the visitors unaware, the ball was killed illegally on the five-metre line by Stroud, stopping Norton from scoring. Surprisingly after the decision a minute before, the referee only awarded a penalty rather than the penalty try. Score 8-17 at the break.
Stroud started the 2nd half with a flourish scoring a converted try, after only a few minutes of the new half. The home side were unlucky with some chances, Mitchard seemed to have beaten the defence but was forced into touch right on the try line, and Captain Fear, having beaten most of the defence was unable to find his supporting player. Jamie Rose did score closing the gap before Stroud scored their fourth try which was easily the best one of the game, as they ran the Norton defence ragged before their right wing crossed in the corner.
As the game ran into the final few minutes Norton threw everything into attack. A forward drive allowed Rose to collect his second try but Taylor hit the bar with the conversion attempt.
This was too little too late as Stroud ran out 18-29 winners
29th April 2017
Midsomer Norton 13 - 31 Newent
For the second time within the week there was a large crowd to watch Norton this time at Norton Down. The normal Saturday crowd was bolstered by a large number of former players who had attended a pre-match luncheon. Norton started the game against Newent well and scored the first points through a penalty by Taylor. The two sides then scored a try a piece with Scott Anderson scoring Norton’s after a concerted forward drive.
At half time the score was very close at 8-13. Early in the second half the combination of the Newent big strong running backs and Norton fatigue, following Wednesday night, allowed the visitors to take a twenty point lead. But as in all games this season the Norton team did not give up and then forward started to take control of the possession again. In one of the hard fought forward exchanges a Newent player received a red card for slapping the face of the Norton Captain, following an exchange of words. While their opposition was a man down Norton scored a second try through Jamie Rose
Shaking off the tiredness and injuries collected in the hard ground over the two games the home side finished the game very strongly. Norton were unable to reduce the deficit after turning the ball over deep in their own territory they kicked the ball deep into the opposition’s 22m area. Disappointingly having recovered the ball the final pass went to ground . Newent kick a penalty in the final seconds of the match to take the final score to 13-31.
This was the end of a very hard season for the team, who were playing at the highest level the club has ever reached in the history if the club.
Next season will allow the team to consolidate and plan for the future now knowing what needs to improve to compete at this level, competing against some semi-pro teams.
The club must also say a big thank you to Tom Lovell who had coached the club for the last few seasons getting them into this strong position. Tom is an ex Norton player having represented the club youth and senior level but is moving out of the area with work commitments, he will be sorely missed.
Wednesday 19th April 2017
Combination Cup Final played at the Rec
Midsomer Norton 12 - 35 Chippenham
This week was a busy week for Midsomer Norton Rugby Club. The Club was playing on Wednesday night in the Final of the Bath Combination Cup on the Recreation Ground and then hosting the last league game of the season against 5th placed Newent in the league. There was a large crowd of supporters at the ground to greet the team who hoped to put their league woes behind them. From the kick off the pack set about controlling possession and field position. This they did well up to the hour mark with 2nd row Tom Fear and Gimson scoring tries.
But as the game ran in the slick Chippenham backs started to score points taking the game away from Norton.
With the game over more insult was inflicted on the team when they found that bar had been closed and they were unable to drown their sorrows and in fact the winners Chippenham were unable to celebrate the win. The premiership club seemed not to understand the significance of this competition to the junior clubs.
8th April 2017
Bridgwater 75 Midsomer Norton 24
This was truly a game of two halves with the home side taking a quick lead scoring three tries out wide within the first fifteen minutes. Bridgwater continued to seemingly score at will as their strong running back took control of the game.
Shortly before half time Norton scored their first points of the afternoon Captain Denning pick up the ball at the back of a scrummage to power over the line to touch down. But by this time Bridgwater had a commanding 54-5 lead going into the break.
The Bridgewater half time talk was all about scoring 100 points but Norton had other ideas
Realising they had given the home side too much respect the Norton team set about dominating the second half. The forwards took control of the set piece especially the scrummage and also carried the ball deep into the Bridgwater defence. The first player to benefit was prop Edgell who crashed over for the first score of the half.
He had a big part in Norton’s third try when the forwards pushed the Bridgwater scrum backwards 20m to allow number 8 Denning to score his second try of the afternoon. The home side could not cope with this continued power and had to repeatedly infringe to try to achieve parity. Unfortunately, this only made matters, worse as the referee yellow carded a Bridgewater prop reducing them to fourteen men.
Not to be out done by his front row partner prop Jenner started to show his skills around the field. Making a break Denning popped the ball back inside to him, surrounded by the home defence he dummied and side stepped his way through the crowd before off-loading the ball to his support runners. With only a couple of minutes to go winger Anderson capped the afternoon off with a superb run turning the defence inside out to score his first 1st team try under the posts.
The game ended with Norton easily winning the second half and regretting not having more belief in their own abilities from the start. This could have been partly due to the disparaging letter in the local media from an unconnected member of the public who seems to think he knows the ethos and finances of Midsomer Norton RFC.
1st April 2017
Midsomer Norton 15 Matson 47
Having travelled down the M5 from Gloucester Matson soon got into their stride with their lively forwards carrying the ball into contact and recycling it quickly freeing up their outside backs.
This kept Norton’s wingers Church and Anderson busy having to make numerous tackle to stem the tide. As all season the pack competed well in the set piece putting the Matson scrummage under pressure on their ball and driving it backwards when it was Norton’s put in. Murphy had two penalty chances one he completed the other was pushed wide. The forwards gave the visitors lots to think about with great drives and eventually Rose collected a try following a series of pick and goes from rucks.
As half time approached Norton’s injury filled season continued when Murphy suffered a neck injury, while leading a promising attack. The game had to be restarted on the 2nd team pitch while an ambulance was called to transport him to hospital.
David Sawkins scored the home side’s second try bursting down the blind side of a ruck and outpaced the defence to cross the line in the corner and jogged round to score under the posts. Centre Mattick caused the visitors problems all afternoon but was unable to add to the score. Back row player Tom Clark was Norton’s man of the match as he yet again worked tirelessly all game, competing at every breakdown and carrying the ball strongly on numerous occasions.
Matson finished the game stronger of the two sides scoring twice in the dying moments as Norton’s efforts started to wane, unfortunately making the score look one sided.
Yet again a big thank you must be made to the club’s physios who unfortunately have been kept busy all season on game days and at training nights dealing with the continuous stream of injuries.
25th March 2017
Midsomer Norton 10 Weston Super Mare 38
The home side knew they were in for a hard Saturday afternoon as this game was the bottom team versus the run- away league leaders.
Weston as expected started well and scored an early try in the corner which they were unable to convert. Settling into the game Norton started to make some possession tell, putting the visitors defence under pressure. Their forwards Moss, Denning, Swift, Jenner and Button repeatedly carried the ball into the Weston 22. This pressure enabled prop Edgell to power over in the corner to level to score after fifteen minutes. Norton attacked with every bit of possession they had, with Schuster and Abbott trying to give the home side’s backs Murphy Holmwood Mattick and Jefferies good attacking ball.
Sawkins and Clark worked tirelessly providing links between the forwards and backs while Winger Church carried the ball well always making ground.
Norton’s determination to attack was their undoing at times as this allowed Weston to pounce on mistakes and turn defence into attack and add to their tally of tries taking the score to 5-33 at the break.
The second half was a very even affair with both sides defences nullifying most of the other side’s attacks. Both teams only managed to score an unconverted try apiece with Edgell replicating his first half score at the other end of the field. In the end, it was Weston’s well organised aggressive defence that won them the game as it stopped Norton adding to their score
11th March 2017
Drybrook 52 Midsomer Norton 3
Norton took the long journey to the Forest of Dean knowing their opposition had drawn with the league leaders the weekend before so expected a hard battle. Norton shook the journey out of their legs and started the game with great purpose putting the home side under pressure. Disappointingly, this field position and possession could not be turned into a try. The home side’s defence although having to work hard stayed firm but gave away numerous penalties.
Unable to cross the line for the try Norton resulted to taking a penalty kick to open the scoring and take a 0-3 lead.
After twenty minutes, having weathered the initial storm Drybrook began to settle into their game plan and their experienced fly half put pace on the ball to keep the ball away from Norton’s pack. This allowed their dangerous outside backs to start scoring tries.
With the score at 26-3 at half time Drybrook had already gained the try bonus point
Drybrook started the second half at a fast pace and soon added to the score board with a well worked back peal from a close-range lineout move.
All through, the game Norton had parity in the forwards but the Drybrook’s backs had the edge with the long pass of their fly half getting the ball out into the wide channels very quickly. Drybrook continued to score at regular intervals but, as in past weeks Norton’s young players Church, Schuster, Goddard, Rose and Anderson stood up in the face of adversity. Rose had his best game in the front row and linked well with Goddard in the lineout. Half way through the half winger Church put in one huge defensive tackle to stop a certain try. Flanker Clarke repeated his last week’s performance as again he worked hard in the loose and centre Jefferies caused the home problems every time he got the ball.
Although beaten again the team never gives up and is learning quickly from the experience of playing in this very strong league.
4th March 2017
Midsomer Norton 5 Clevedon 63
Following a week of rain Norton entertained 2nd place Clevedon RFC playing on a very wet second team pitch, knowing they were going to be in for a tough afternoon.
As expected playing down the slope with the wind behind them Clevedon quickly got into their stride playing a fast offloading game and ran up a commanding 1st half lead of 37 point having scored 5 tries.
As the second half progressed the home side’s scrummage gained parity and then some dominance, this was achieved even though both first choice 2nd rows, Fear and Goddard had left the field with injuries. At one attacking scrummage scrum half Schuster pinching the ball from under his no 8s feet to dive over to score Norton’s only points of the afternoon.
Credit must be given to the team as they battled hard all through the game this was epitomised by flanker Tom Clark who was Norton’s man of the match, giving a tireless performance leading the defence putting in tackle after tackle.
The visitors scored four second half tries and although the score line was one sided, the visiting supporters agreed that the Norton team had made them work for all their points and at times had very good attacking opportunities putting them under pressure.
25th Feb 2017
Midsomer Norton 29 Bath University 19
With no league rugby on Saturday, Norton played Bath University in a semi-final of the Bath Combination Cup. The University have a good track record in this competition, reaching the final regularly in recent years so the team knew they were still in for a tough fixture.
Norton started well, determined to put their recent results behind them and set about pressurising the visitors 22m area. Senior forwards Gimson, Denning and Jenner put in the hard yards keeping the University on the back foot and helped by the rest of the pack they dominated the scrummage and lineout. This pressure soon brought the first score with Fear driving over the line, Murphy added the conversion.
Using the obvious advantage in the pack Norton drove the students back over their line for number 8 Denning to score an easy push over try, again the conversion was added. When in possession of the ball, the university were finding it difficult to break through the strong Norton defence and eventually resulted in chipping the ball over to score their first try. The Norton backs weren’t content with defending and set up good attacks with Holmwood Murphy and Anderson looking dangerous on the break.
Playing behind a dominate pack, allowed scrum half Schuster to boss the game and to celebrate his second 1st team game, with a try as he sniped around a maul finding a gap in the defence. Murphy missed the conversion but collected a penalty goal to give the team a 15 point at the break.
Straight after the break, the University now playing with the slope and elements, upped their game but were still struggling to breach the home side’s determined defence. Repeating their first half tactic of kicking they again found space behind the defence to score a second converted try.
The home side’s domination in the scrummage showed when, awarded a scrum a full twenty metres from the University’s line, they produced a controlled drive allowing their captain to score his second push over try. With their first-choice kicker Murphy, off the field with an injury, flanker Button stepped up to slot the conversion, opening the gap to 15 points.
As the game came to a close the University threw everything into attack and managed to score again, closing the deficit to 29-19 but this effort was not enough as Norton closed the game out.
This victory allows the team to contest the Combination Final against Chippenham at the Bath Recreation Gound on 19th April.
18th Feb 2017
Chard 30 Midsomer Norton 21
Chard started the game the quicker of the two teams and caught Norton cold spinning the ball out wide for their winger to cross the line under the posts. The home side quickly extended their lead with a penalty goal. Norton’s problems were compounded when centre Anderson had to leave the field with an injury he was replaced by Walkes.
Norton struggled to clear their lines with kicks not hitting touch, allowing Chard to run to run the ball back at the Norton defence. The Norton forwards started to get into their stride with the back row of Clark, Button and Denning, controlling the physical battle at the break down, this gave the team good field position. From one attack into the Chard 22, back row player Button crossed the line to score under the posts.
As the game heated up the referee awarded double yellow cards which saw Gimson joining a Chard player in the bin for 10 minutes. Button collected his second try and with the conversion completed Norton took the lead for the first time. The home side stung by this score responded quickly regained the lead as the half ended with a converted try of their own. Encouraged by the score at the end of the first half the side started the second half as they did the first and extend their lead to 24-14.
Young players Mitch Rose, Church and Schuster were having fine games and with Goddard joining them from the bench it showed that they will be a good supply of 1st team players for the future. Fly half Abbott kept the side going forward releasing the strong runners Holmewood, Jeffry and Murphy outside him.
A continued period a pressure on the Chard line resulted in Chard having to infringe at a number of scrummages This forced the referee to award a penalty try, closing the gap to three points 24-21. Credit for this score must be given to Norton’s ever present props Edgell and Jenner who have stood up to all opposition in the league. An injury to flanker Clark allowed Jamie Rose to join his younger brother in the pack.
As the game came to a close, Chard were able to score two long range penalties to take any chance of a win away from Norton
Disappointedly, this result ensures that Norton will be relegated at the end of the season but, all of the club and the whole of Midsomer Norton should be proud of their team. Praise must be given to the junior coaches who helped develop these home, grown players, allowing the club to have reached this level without resulting to importing players from overseas or paying players as other teams are doing in this league.
11th Feb 2017
Midsomer Norton 5pts v Kingsbridge 32pts
First thing in the morning the pitches at Norton Down were covered with a dusting of snow but the pitch could take a stud, so it was decided correctly to let the game by played. As in recent weeks Norton started slowly allowing the visitors to score first gaining a 10-point lead.
Kingsbridge kept the pressure on Norton playing the opening quarter in the home sides half.
As the half-progressed Norton’s scrummage started to dominate and the side was able to gain field position and make the advantage pay. For the second week, full back Murphy carried the ball strongly as did hooker Swift.
The dominance in the scrummage allowed Captain Denning to pick the ball up at the base of a 5m scrum and forced his way over the line to score a try the conversion was wide
Just before half time centre Anderson was yellow carded Kingsbridge extended their lead with the penalty kick taking the score to 5-13 at the break.
Norton normally play well up the hill but as the game continued Kingsbridge slowly extended their lead while changes in the home team caused problems reducing the quality of their ball.
This was a game Norton had hoped to win but Kingsbridge were determined to take their chance to go above Chard in the league and the game ended 5-32 in their favour.
4th Feb 2017
Midsomer Norton 5pts V Thornbury 36pts
Norton kicked off this rearranged fixture against third placed Thornbury with the ground just playable following a week of rain. Thornbury started the game quickly and pressured the home side’s line in the opening minutes but the defence held firm depriving the visitors an early score. Pressure forced Norton into giving away penalties this allowed the visitors to kick into the corner giving them good attacking opportunities and on ten minutes they managed to drive over to score a converted try.
From the restart, Norton immediately went on the attack with both forwards and backs linking well to make space for Rideout to have a relatively easy run in to score in the corner.
Thornbury stung by this score went straight back on the attack and created space to score an unconverted try wide out. The heavy conditions brought the forwards on both sides to the fore but neither could get the upper hand in scrum or lineout. Murphy at full back was kept busy with Thornbury kicking the ball out of defence but was secure under the high ball. Linking with fellow back Ben Anderson and Hugh Jefferies they made metres running the ball back at the opposition. Norton’s injury woes continued when scrum half Dan Moon had to be replaced by Johnson who had started the game on the wing
The visitors scored two more tries in the half both from driving line outs one after 30mins the other just on half time to take the score to 5-24 at the break.
The home side was now playing up the slope and took the game to the visitors with young forward Goddard having his best game in the first team shirt. He carried the ball well along with the three front row forwards supported by a busy back row team.
Thornbury scored two tries in the last few minutes of the game as the Norton side tired taking the score to 5-36 at fulltime. Although beaten the team never gave up and produced a gutsy performance and look forward to next week when Kingsbridge visit Norton Down.
28th Jan 2017
Bideford 64 Midsomer Norton 10
Midsomer Norton travelled down to Bideford for the furthest away trip of the season, after some slight referee transport issues, the game got started 1hour 15 minutes later than planned.
The hosts kicked off and within the first phases Midsomer Norton kicked their way out of the half but with a weak kick chase allowed Bideford to pick out the gaps and run through for a try under the post. Norton were 7-0 down after couple of minutes. Norton struggled to match Bideford's physical presence up front and pace in the backs, it took a further try which was scored out wide before Norton began to respond. The forwards managed to start building a fair number of Phases, but the team lacked the cutting edge and a turnover allowed Bideford to regain the ball and another break away for another try.
From there on in Bideford dominated the game and began to pack on the points and the second half was very similar as has the been the case with the whole season.
At times Norton could hold onto position for short periods of play at one of these the visitors were awarded a penalty, Norton decided to take 3 point with Tom Rideout slotting the points getting the visitors on to the score sheet. With the last play of the game Tom Fears’ strong running finally broke the home teams defence and the ball was offloaded to veteran Ian Tiley who in turn fed captain Denning, Denning broke through a gap and managed to pop an offload out of the back of his hand to utility forward David Sawkins how dived over to score near the posts, Tom Rideout added the extras.
It's been a very tough season at a higher level but also valuable experience playing against better opposition. A lot of credit should go to the players and coaches who are still turning up week in week out, despite the difficult results.
14th Jan 2017
Teignmouth 62 Midsomer Norton 7
After the two-hour drive to Teignmouth the Norton team started the brighter of the two sides quickly getting the journey out of their legs. Prop Edgel scored the first try of the game and with the conversion added Norton had a 7-point lead.
The home side started to hit their stride and their forwards put a lot of pressure on the visiting scrummage depriving Norton of an attacking platform. Teignmouth scored from a driving maul but were unable to convert. At this point in the game there was very little between the sides, both having attacking opportunities but the defences holding firm. One Teignmouth attack came to nothing but fly half Abbott was judged to stop the ball illegally and was issued a yellow carded, the home side slotted the penalty.
As the half ended the home side extended their lead with their second try this was converted giving them a 15 -7 half time lead.
The half started badly for Norton as Teignmouth came out of the blocks the very quickly extending their lead to 15 points. This points difference allowed the home to relax and to look to attack at any opportunity, which they did for the rest of the game scoring at regular periods.
As he half proceeded Norton sorted the scrummage problems out but the lineout started to falter depriving the side any attacking opportunities, although this was another disappointing defeat the young players Goddard, Fear Bicknell, Rose, Anderson and Knight are gaining experience of playing at this level
7th Jan 2017
Midsomer Norton 1sts 3 v Okehampton 46
Midsomer Norton started 2017 by welcoming Okehampton to a damp Norton Down hoping to turn their fortunes around. The squad was still not up to full strength so knew they were facing a stern test but were looking forward to the battle
The victors started the brighter of the two side and were soon testing the home sides defence. Surprisingly after a few minutes and Norton having only conceding a couple of penalties the referee decided to award a penalty try to the visitors. Okehampton extended their lead quickly extended their lead to 10 points with a penalty goal.
The home team started to get into their stride and set up some concerted attacks with Edgell Murphy and Martin running strongly. The home team pressured the Okehampton line with scrum half Johnson trying to find holes but were unable to cross it and had to be content with a penalty to reduce the deficit. The visitor’s forwards were proving to be a match for the home pack especially in the scrummage reducing the amount of good clean attacking ball the home sides backs were given. A lapse in the defence allowed Okehampton to score a second try giving them a 3-17 lead when the half-finished.
From the restart Okehampton but pressure on the home sides 22m area and managed to charged down a clearance kick this collected by the chaser to score extending Okehampton’s lead to 19 points.
Norton now literally had an uphill battle and their forwards led the way with Jenner Fear and Denning carrying the ball in open play but the opposition always managed to snuff out the attacks. Their defence having stopped the attacks turned the ball over and ran the ball back steadily increasing their lead with five more tries. Norton had one chance to score when Denning was driven over the line but the referee decided that a Okehampton hand was under the ball and disallowed the try. Well beaten again the team never gave up and young second row Goddard showed his potential and impressed with his work rate in all aspects of the game.
17th Dec 2016
North Petherton 97 Midsomer Norton 8
Norton travelled to North Petherton for the last league game of 2016 with a depleted squad due to the continued long list of injuries. When the home side started the game strongly and quickly ran in a couple of tries it was immediately obvious that this was going to be another hard afternoon for the team.
The set piece was even with Bicknell and Backhurst combining with Jenner well in the front row. This ensured the ball was won on their own put in and pressure put on the Petherton scrum, helped by the power coming through from second rows Fear and Goddard. The second row also produced good quality ball from the lineout with hooker Backhurst throwing in with precision. Norton’s problems were compounded when scrum half Johnson was yellow carded, adjudged to have stopped one Petherton attack illegally. Walkes, Davis and Harper also joined the lengthening injury list.
Forwards Denning Fear and Jenner caused problems when they had ball in hand but determined Petherton defence repelled all but one attack when Tom Fear crossed the line for Norton’s sole try. Back row players Sawkins and Davis battled hard in the loose but were up against a powerful North Petherton team who recycled the ball quickly.
Stand in fly half, Martin tried to keep the team going forward and repeatedly released centre Mitchard who caused problems, cutting the home defence apart but the support could never quite get to him before the gaps were closed. Martin also collected the teams only other point from a penalty goal.
For the third week in a row veteran Tiley was forced to play again joining young players Jeffery, Knight and Church in the back line. Although beaten by a large score the club must be proud the team who never gave up and battled all the way through the game and were clapped off of the pitch by the home supporters.
The team now has a short break and hopefully some of the injuries will heal when the season starts again in 2017.
10th Dec 2016
Midsomer Norton 0 Bridgwater 29
A miserable grey wet day greeted the two teams at Norton Down on Saturday. The visiting team Bridgwater started the game very strongly catching the home side unawares with the power of their forwards. They quickly scored an unconverted try on five minutes to take an early lead.
While Norton were trying to regroup, Bridgwater scored a second try with a simple chip over the pressing home defence. The ball luckily stood up rather than rolling off the pitch and the chasing player just had to dot the ball down to score his second try of the day.
Norton started to get into the game and it was nip and tuck for the next forty minutes. For the second week in a row handling errors in the opposition twenty-two metre area frustrated the Norton team depriving them of a score.
Struggling to find a way through the Norton defence Bridgwater had to result to kicking a drop goal to extend their lead in the 55th minute. Norton’s continued injury problems increased losing influential forwards Gimson and Moss midway through the game and finished again with fourteen players.
As the game entered the final ten minutes Bridgewater stepped up the effort and their big pack put additional pressure on the home defence which finally broke. This allowed the visitors to score their first try of the second half.
Bridgwater scored their fourth try to gain a bonus point with just time to take the kick off left on the game, winning the game 0-29.
3rd Dec 2016
Matson 80 Midsomer Norton 7
Norton travelled to Gloucester with a team weakened by injuries and players refusing to travel, the squad included the club’s 1st, 2nd and 3rd team captains Their run of injuries continued when early in the game Murphy having looked a threat every time he got the ball pulled up with a ham string injury. Fly half Abbott soon joined him on the side line as it became obvious that he had been forced to return from injury too soon.
The team tried to build some possession of a strong scrummage but were over committing at the breakdown leaving mismatches when the home side span the ball quickly. The Matson side played the game at pace with support players always available on the ball carrier’s shoulder, to carry the move on. The half ended with the Home side having an unassailable 44-point lead.
Norton started the second half better tightening the game up and stopped kicking aimlessly this had been giving the Matson team ball for which they had not had to compete. Unfortunately, several handling mistakes close to the line deprived Norton of scoring opportunities and allowed the home side to turn the ball over and counter attack running tries in from their own 22.
The team as the game entered the final quarter they found themselves playing with fourteen players as they ran out of replacements to cover the injured players.
The Norton team playing with pride never gave up and got their only score in the dying minutes of the game when Matson infringed in their 22metre area. The Norton captain turned down the easy three points and decided to take the scrum option. Winning the ball Denning pick up at the base and ran wide giving the ball to Mitchard on diagonal line to score under the posts Rideout added the extra points. This capped a fine game for Mitchard as he had been finding holes in the Matson defence all afternoon, but never quite being able being able to beat the covering players.
Although suffering a 80 -7 defeat the players were able to return to the Norton clubhouse, at 6:00pm to drown their sorrows, with their heads held high having given their all in adversary to represent their club.
26th Nov 2016
Weston Super Mare 95 Midsomer Norton 12
Midsomer Norton travelled to league flyers weston on Saturday and were shown why the coastal side are top of the league,
Weston were unstoppable with quick ball and scored at will when they had it, on the rare occasion the the mendip side managed to slow the home sides ball down they looked equal but it was all too easy once the home side got speed back into the game,
There were 2 occasions during the match where Norton put Weston under pressure and Prop Matthew Edgell broke over the whitewash on both occasions.
The visitors shouldn't be too concerned with the result as Weston and the Norton down side are fighting for different goals this season with Weston pushing hard to gain promotion whereas norton are fighting in the lower section of the league to stay in the highest level of rugby the club has ever played in,
One bonus was that there were no serious injuries this week, to add to the clubs large list of sidelined players
Next week Norton stay on the road with a trip to Gloucester to take on Matson
19th Nov 2016
Midsomer Norton 21 Drybrook 26
Following the sides win the previous week Norton started with confidence and took an early lead in this fixture with a penalty goal from Taylor. The visitors were soon on the scoreboard when they scored a converted try but Taylor closed the gap with a second penalty goal. Some poor kicks from Norton allowed the visitors time and space to make ground out of defence and they scored a well worked second try.
The home side’s scrummage started to be dominate giving a good platform to attack off of, but for the second week in a row Norton, having both territory and possession advantage struggled to score while playing down the slope. Taylor scored all the team’s first half points with three penalty kicks.
Starting the second half down the hill Drybrook kicked long into the corner and caught Norton cold collecting their third try of the match within seconds of the restart. Putting the slow second half start behind them the home side’s forwards started to take control of the game with good driving mauls from their impeccable lineout.
Playing much the better rugby the home supporters were expecting Norton to add to their points tally and flanker Button was the first to do that. As the game broke up Button forced his way over the line to score an unconverted try. Next to score was Number 8 Denning who had been deprived earlier, when he was beaten by the referee’s whistle and brought back only to be awarded a penalty. He dotted down the ball as he controlled the ball at the back of a scrummage for a push over try. Taylor added the extra points to draw the game 21 points apiece.
With the game now in its closing minutes a draw looked imminent a speculative but superb cross field kick from the Drybrook fly half was collected by their left-hand winger to score in the corner to regain the lead and win the game for the visitors. Mitch Rose continues his run of good performances in the first team especially as he was playing out of position in the second row
12th Nov 2016
Midsomer Norton 13 Chard 7
Norton started this bottom of the table clash briskly putting pressure on their opponent’s line, and Taylor kicked a penalty to take the lead after five minutes. With Tom Fear ruling the line out and the pack slowly taking control of the scrummage Norton seemed to be in control but they did everything but extend their lead.
Chard managed to break out of the stranglehold with a fine attack catching the home side off guard. Moving the ball wide quickly a scissors move broke the defensive line and a Chard centre crossed the line to score under the posts, the conversion was added. Shortly after Norton’s injury woes increased when experienced centre Rowles had to leave the field with serious facial injury resulting in two fractures to the cheekbone and eye socket.
A tense first half ended with the visitors having a slim 3-7 lead.
As Chard tried to use the slope to their advantage, fullback Jason Holmwood continued his fine first half form running any ball back at them always making metres. This allowed the home forwards to secure the ball and carry on the attack. Securing some quick ball the backs were released up the right hand wing and just as it looked like they would score in the corner the ball was fed back inside to the support. Prop Edgell was on hand to cross the line and score under the posts Taylor added the extras
Half way through the second half the game was reduced to uncontested scrums when Chard were unable to field a fully fit front row this negated the scrum advantage that the home pack had built up throughout the game.
As Norton fly half Taylor extended the lead with a second penalty this gave the home side a bit of breathing space but the scores were still within a converted try. Although the home side had little of the ball for the last fifteen minutes of the game they defended the Chard twenty-two metre line refusing to let the visitors have any space to play in. This defence finally won the game for Norton as Chard were unable to add any more points and the game ended 13-7.
Norton secured their first win of the season with this delayed fixture and the afrikaans accent ringing loud around Norton Down.
5th Nov 2016
Clevedon 59 Midsomer Norton 5
The home side Clevedon took an early with a simple penalty goal inside the first minute and soon extended their lead with an un- converted try.
16-0 Clevedon scored their second try when having won the ball against the head their centre picked a brilliant line to score close to the posts.
The half was one way traffic with all the possession Clevedon’s, Norton could not get into the game dropping off of tackles and not pressurising the gain line.
Clevedon scored next following a chip over the defence and beating the Norton players to the ball. This was the pattern for the whole first half with Clevedon collecting 37 unanswered points. Norton’s problems increased when second row Gimson was forced to leave the field with a head injury.
Norton started the second half with some belief of their ability and put Clevedon under pressure for some long periods Mat Edgell returned to the front row this allowed Norton to get some parity in the scrummage which allowed replacement scrum half Jack Johnson to score Norton’s only points of the game.
The second half was much more even until the last ten minutes when the home side ran in two tries taking the final score to 59-5. Norton can take some comfort out of the game as the performances of a trio of young players Mitch Rose, Joe Knight and Sam Church showed their promise for the future.
22 Oct 2016
Kingsbridge 25 Midsomer Norton 12
Having had some problems with the journey, one player arriving 15 minutes before kick-off, Norton quickly got into the game. Winning a penalty in the Kingsbridge twenty-two metre area, second row Gimson took a quick tap catching the home side off guard and forced his way over the line for the first score of the day.
The home side quickly benefited from a Norton infringement, and opened their account with a penalty goal and then took the lead 8-5 ten minutes before halftime, with a unconverted try.
The Norton backs saw quite a lot of the ball with centre Rowles and winger Snelling both having a number of strong runs. A couple of minutes before the break Norton regained the lead with a try from a catch and drive at the lineout, captain Denning was the player who emerged from the bottom of the pile of players with the ball. The half ended 8-12.
Kingsbridge started the second half the brighter of the two teams and kept that momentum up throughout the half. Norton found themselves playing in wrong part of the field for most of the half and seemed to find it impossible to put together an effective exit strategy.
Kingsbridge closed the gap with a penalty goal following a penalty given for a high tackle the then took the lead when visitor’s number 8 picked up from the base of a twisting scrummage and offloaded the ball allowing his fullback to score a converted try.
Norton found themselves having to chase the game and wasted scoring chances with poor execution at the line out and unforced handling errors. Kingsbridge added to Norton’s problems by scoring in the last couple of minutes of the game taking the score to 25-12.
8th Oct 2016
Midsomer Norton 28 Bideford 38
Norton will look back this game and rue another slow start as they allowed Bideford what looked like an unassailable 9-32 lead at half time.
Early in the game the sides swopped penalties before Bideford took the lead with a converted try. The home side added a penalty on the 30min mark.
For the next ten minutes the Bideford strong runners took advantage of some weak tackling, running from their own half turning defence into attack, adding three more tries and two conversions to their tally.
The game seemed all but over at half time but the home coach had other ideas and in the half time talk told the players how to nullify Bideford’s attack. Using the slope to the best advantage Norton played in the opposition territory and the pack started to dominate the set piece, although a few of the lineouts were a bit loose.
Norton started to chip away at the big points difference, flanker Button led the way as he forced his way over the line for the home side’s first try. Centres Mitchard and Martin began to receive some quicker ball and started to find holes in the visitor’s defence. The captain Denning added another try from a driving scrum. Button and Gimson were held up over the line and Gimson dropped the ball on his way to the line on another occasion before he finally scored in the last minute of the game.
The team must learn to start faster not giving their opposition a head start and to adapt quicker on the field rather than wait for some guidance at half time.
1st Oct 2016
Thornbury 38 Midsomer Norton 0
Having not played each other since 1998 the sides spent the first quarter of an hour sizing each other up before a Norton infringement allowed Thornbury to kick a penalty to take a 3-0 lead after twenty minutes. Ten minutes later Thornbury scored the first try of the match taking the score to 10-0.
Norton now has a good period of possession putting pressure on the home side’s line. But unfortunately a couple of good scoring chances were squandered and Thornbury were able to break out and score in stoppage time of the first half.
The half ended with the home side leading 17-0, the Norton pack was completing well in the tight exchanges but Thornbury were winning the loose.
Norton were slow to start after the break, the compete opposite to their opposition, who scored in the first minute of the half. Thornbury now had a healthy twenty-four-point lead and could afford to take risks attacking at every opportunity.
The team was now under the cosh as the home side launched wave after wave of attacks down the slope and they responded by putting a huge defensive shift. At least three attacks, which spectators’ thought were certain tries, were stopped. Even when Thornbury did cross the line the referee disallowed the score. The team kept their line safe for thirty minutes before Thornbury extended their lead with a converted try. The home side added a further try five minutes from full time to take the score to 38-0.
A big thankyou has to made those players who stepped in at the last minutes due to unavailability and injury.
24th Sept 2016
Midsomer Norton 19 Teignmouth 19
Fine weather a large crowd and the normal stiff breeze greeted Teignmouth as they paid their first visit to Norton Down. The visitors got into the game quickly and soon found a miss-match in defence with their lively backs running against front row forwards scoring wide out in the corner the extra points were added with a fine kick.
The quarter of an hour mark on saw a rare visit to the Teignmouth 22m area from the home side centre Rowles broke through the defence juggling the ball to score under the posts. Taylor added the conversion. The rest of the half was fiercely contested with neither side being able to make a break through. The score remained at 7-7 when half was brought to a close. Norton now knew they would have the wind on their side for the next 40 mins and started to make the most of the forwards dominance to supply good ball to the backs.
Full back Abbott made the most of this to cross for the home sides second try and to take the lead for the first time, unfortunately the full back was injured in the act of scoring. For the second week in succession the team relaxed once they were in the lead this allowed the visitors to strike straight back and score under the posts. The conversion put them back in the lead.
The home side responded with another well executed backs move with winger Luke Murphy timing his pass perfectly to put Moon in under the posts unopposed, to score the sides third try and regain the lead.
Teignmouth finished the game with a period of pressure in the Norton twenty-two area, forcing a series of penalties from the home side and flanker Button yellow carded. As the game was coming to a close one last penalty Was given away Teignmouth span the ball out wide to the blind side wing who dived over near the touch line to draw the scores, luckily for Norton the conversion was missed and they escaped with their first 2 league points of the season and to move off the bottom of the table.
17th Sept 2016
Okehampton 38 Midsomer Norton 22
Norton started poorly trying to get the journey out of their legs and quickly found themselves down by 10 points before 2nd row Moss crossed the line under the posts to reduce the deficit Taylor added the extra points. The team’s forwards worked hard to change Norton’s fortunes putting huge pressure on the home side in both the scrummage and lineout winning a number of their ball.
Norton had a chance to level the score through a penalty but Taylor just missed the kick. Okehampton worked their way down field and were awarded a penalty close to the line. They took a quick tap and scrumhalf Moon was adjudged to have obstructed the attacker from an offside position and received a yellow card.
The team now started to play with some fluidity with their strong runners making ground and the ball available giving good attacking opportunities. Norton’s back row player Sawkins benefitted from this and dived over to gain Norton’s 2nd try. The conversion was missed but Taylor added a penalty to level the scores at half time
Some poor defending in the centre of the field after the break saw the home side score their 4th try. But a strong run from Tom fear shaking off tackles from three defenders saw him cross the Okehampton line adding Norton’s 3rd try. The conversion by Taylor put Norton in the lead for the first time.at this point it seemed that all the side had to do was play sensible rugby in the right part of the field.
Silly penalties at the breakdown and mistakes not clearing their lines kicking the ball directly into touch gave Okehampton easy attacking options. this allowed the home side to regain the lead 23-22 though a penalty and then extend it to 31-22
Now chasing the game to at least gain a losing bonus point the team gave away an interception pass giving Okehampton a free 80m run to the line. The scoreline does not do justice to the Norton team who could have quite easily have had their first win to the season.
10th Sept 2016
Midsomer Norton 10 North Petherton 28
Norton welcomed North Petherton for their first home game of the season. The opening half hour was played at a fast pace, making best use of the good conditions, with both sides having a number of scoring opportunities but the defences of either side held fast. On the half hour mark North Petherton crossed Norton’s line to gain a 5-0 lead and soon added another three points from a penalty.
With the half time whistle loomimg Norton were awarded a lineout five metres from the visitor’s line. Fear caught the ball and the pack drove over allowing Button to score Taylor added the conversion kicking from near the touch line. The home side finished a hard fought half one point behind their opposition 7-8 but had lost experienced winger Rowles to an injury.
Ten minutes into the 2nd half North Petherton extended their lead with a second unconverted try taking the score to 7-13. With the pack competing well and the scrummage functioning much better, at times driving their opposition off of the ball it was a disappointment to have Williams sin binned which saw front row replacement Swift join the fray earlier than planned. Taylor reduced the points difference to three point from a penalty, unfortunately North Petherton restored the gap with a penalty of their own
North Petherton extended their lead when they scored from a line out move similar to one the home side had used earlier, that time the referee pulled home captain Denning back for an infringement.
Norton now threw everything in to attack and pressurised the Petherton line in the closing minutes of the game. The home crowd thought their side had scored at the death but Abbott had the ball stripped from his grasp as he crossed the line.
3rd Sept 2016
Newent 1sts 45 Norton 1sts 0
Norton travelled to Newent on the edge of the Forest of Dean for the first game of the season in their new league South West 1 West.
The team knew they were in uncharted waters and their hosts had finished in third position the previous season. Unlike other occasions when playing new opponents, the team didn’t sit back and wait for their opposition to come to them. They started well and the early exchanges were even with both sides putting pressure on the opposing try line.
The whole game was played with ferocity and pace with neither side holding back and looking to attack at every opportunity. One of Norton’s best chances was when Captain Denning Intercepted a pass on the halfway line but unfortunately with an open field in front of him did not have the pace to reach the line. The home defence were quicker to react and managed to reclaim the ball to clear their lines.
Towards the end of the half the scrummage became a problem with Norton’s front row repeatedly being penalised by the referee. This gave Newent easy opportunities to kick for position keeping the pressure on the Norton line. The half ended with the home side having a comfortable 22-0 lead.
The second half saw Newent become more fluid in their attacks making it hard for Norton to win clean ball to work with. As the game entered the last quarter Norton’s resolve faltered and let in three easy tries extending Newent’s lead. The team now have a better idea of what to expect for the rest of the season and have plenty to work on in the future.
Although Newent named Ben Moon as Norton’s man of the match special mentions must go to Jacob Mattick playing his first league game and Sam Church whose work rate was impressive when he came on as a replacement.
After the warm welcome the team received the club is looking forward to hosting the return fixture at Norton Down the last game of the season.
Southern Counties Play Off
Midsomer Norton 29 Aylesbury 22
Storm clouds and heavy rain greeted the visiting team Aylesbury to Norton Down, but the weather dried up just in time for the kick off of the winner takes all playoff game.
Playing up the hill and into the wind Norton started quickly and although the opposition pack was larger man for man the home pack dominated from the outset. From an early penalty Taylor kicked to the corner setting up a lineout five metres from the line. The ball was won cleanly and the backs set loose but the initial attack was held up over the line. The home side’s powerful pack won the scrummage nudging Aylesbury backwards. Using the momentum as a springboard No8 Denning picked up the ball and drove over the line for the first score of the day.
The team’s second score followed quickly, with the lineout working with precision, scrum half Ben Moon sniped around the side of the maul to score in the corner on the fifteen-minute mark.
Aylesbury started to find the form that had gotten them to this final and put pressure on the Norton line. A Norton player knocked the ball on and a scrummage was awarded to Aylesbury. Norton’s dominate scrum won the ball against the head and Denning carried the ball twenty metres up the pitch. Having gained confidence from the early scores the team tried to continue the attack from deep in their own half, unfortunately a pass was intercepted. The Aylesbury fly half gratefully collected the loose pass and scored under the posts, with the conversion completed the visitors were back in the game.
The front row of Edgell, Fuller and Jenner again provided good ball from the scrummage giving Denning the easiest of rides in the back row. Picking and going he fed the ball to centre Mitchard on the twenty-two line who stormed through the remaining defence to score, Taylor add the conversion.
Aylesbury closed the gap back to ten points when the referee adjudged Norton’s defence to be offside and the opposition centre slotted the penalty. The visitors were finishing the half very strongly gaining territory and possession causing the home defence problems. Winning a lineout, the Aylesbury scrum half moved the ball quickly to his backs. The powerful no12 committed the home defence before offloading the ball to his winger who scored their second try in corner. The extra points were added when the no12 landed a difficult kick to bring the scores level 17-17 at half time.
Now with the wind and slope on their side the pack tried to take control and squeeze their opposition. After a period of intense pressure Norton were awarded a penalty Gimson took a quick tap but was stopped short but awarded another penalty. This time the ball was kicked into corner, winning the lineout Gimson was driven over the line to score, Taylor could not convert from touch line.
Aylesbury fought back kicking for territory but a lack of precision in the line out and Button and Sawkins turning ball over in the breakdown they were kept at bay, for most of the half.
Half way through the second period Aylesbury won a lineout near the Norton 5m line and moved the ball away from the home forwards to their dangerous no12, he again slipped a pass to his winger to score in corner, the wind kept the kick short bringing the scores level again at 22-22.
A series of penalty offences by Aylesbury allowed Norton to kick yet again into the corner, with the confidence that they would win the lineout. Gimson duly won the ball and after one phase of play Fear took a crash ball to score, Taylor again added the conversion taking the score to 29-22
Having regained the lead, the team intended to Close out the remaining fifteen minutes of the game playing in the Aylesbury half keeping the ball in the forwards and continue with the strong defence. The outside backs Holmwood, Verden, Blackmore and Rowles had not seen much of the ball in attack but had worked hard in defence
Strangely, having been in total control of the scrummage all game the referee decided to yellow card prop Edgell for driving up and the team had to play the rest of the game with fourteen players. Sawkins had to make way for Swift to make up the numbers in the front row.
Aylesbury having the numerical advantage now threw everything into their attack but the home side’s defence held and won a turn over, deep into injury time to win the game.
We must feel for Luke Murphy who although named in the original squad failed a pre-game fitness test and had to watch the game from the side line along with the couple of hundred home supporters who had gathered at Norton Down to cheer on their club.
The club will now be playing in South West 1 the highest level it has played since the inception of the league system.
23rd April 2016
Mdsomer Norton 71 – 22 Dorchester
Saturday’s game the last league game of the season was played in front of a large crowd of former players. The home side started it, in the knowledge that a win would give them a home fixture in the play-off game for promotion. They started playing down the slope, but into a stiff breeze and were intent on getting points on the board quickly.
Attacking from any position a loose pass was intercepted by a Dorchester player who ran in unopposed to put the first points on the score board. The home side now decided to tighten up and take control of the game, through the forwards. Three minutes later following a strong drive captain Denning crashed over from short range, to level the score. Fly half Taylor added the extra points.
Back in control the Norton forwards supplied good quality first phase ball from the set piece especially from the line out with Fear and Matthews in command. This quick possession allowed Verden and Mitchard some room both of them collecting tries.
The half ended with Norton having scored total of three tries and attaining a 19-5 lead.
Right from the restart the team entertained the crowd with some fine attacking play quickly collecting four more tries. The game now won and the play off place secured, the team relaxed. This allowed the Dorchester team who competed throughout the game to score three tries of their own.
Not wanting to finish the game with Dorchester in the ascendance the team regained their composure. Returning to their previous attacking game they collected a final tally of eleven tries. This took the final score to 71-22, with Edgell, Mitchard, Verden, Denning, Sawkins, Rose and Holmwood collecting tries and Taylor added eight conversions.
Norton now meet Aylesbury at Norton Down next Saturday in a game which will decide in what league Norton will play next season.
16th April 2016
Devizes 32 Midsomer Norton 14
The home side were determined to put on a good display In front of the large crowd gathered for their Vice President’s Lunch. They started well and soon had a 7-0 lead. Norton fought back and soon levelled the score when centre Jack Rowles weaved his way through the defence to score under the posts.
The home side kept the scoreboard ticking over with their fly half controlling the game, he kicked well and unleashed his back line and the score soon reached 27-7. Norton’s normally strong running pack were pinned back by some very strong well organized Devizes’ defence. The game was stop start with both teams struggling to understand the referee’s interpretation of the laws at the breakdown. This resulted in a high number of penalties to both teams but not within kicking range.
Norton took a quick penalty, the Devizes’ defence did not retreat and tackled Gimson illegally. The referee was forced to sin bin one of the home team’s props, in this incident a serious Injury to second row Gimson delayed the game. This left Jamie prone on the floor 2 metres from the line waiting for an ambulance. Having to move to another pitche to resume the match Norton elected to scrummage and were awarded another penalty. Deciding to scrummaged again Norton drove Devizes backwards, number 8 Denning picked and powered towards the line, managing to ride the tackle from the scrum half he reached out to score. The conversion added the extra points.
Norton upped their efforts to close in on their opposition but their efforts were in vain. The team’s replacements played well with Dayne Swift and Jack Rideout adding fresh energy to the attack. Nathan Fear, made his 1st team debut, out of position on the wing. He replaced Jack Rowles who was Norton’s man of the match, for the last 5 minutes of the game. Rowles had to leave the field after suffering a cut to the head.
The team was well beaten 32-14 on the day with Devizes getting revenge for the defeat in the last league game of 2016. This was a disappointing display all round but Marlbough did the club a favour by beating North Dorset the club in 3rd position.
This result keeps Norton’s promotion play off hopes alive just requiring a win vs bottom of the league Dorchester next week to secure the playoff position.
2nd April 2016
Midsomer Norton 48 Wimborne 8
Earlier in the day Norton’s Junior section played host to the U13s and 14s of Beccehamians RFC so there was a large crowd at Norton Down for the Southern Counties South league game and the team hoped to put on a good display. Unfortunately, Norton had the worst ever start to a game. Straight from the kick off a mistake gave Wimborne an attacking lineout just metres from the Norton try line. The visitors scored from a catch and drive, and to make matters worse taking the restart into the strong wind the ball didn’t go 10m and Wimborne were awarded a scrum on the half way line.
The team quickly took stock and decided to put their running game into action. The pack controlled the set piece providing quick ball, this allowed the team’s strong runners to be unleashed. Centre Mitchard was the first to break the visitors’ pressing defence, running from 22 to 22 before being stopped. Part way through the half Jack Johnson, who had started his second first team game at scrum half had to leave the field with a broken nose. Holmwood, Gimson, Denning, Jenner and Fear all carried well but it was Taylor, Edgell and a returning player Jamie Verden who crossed the line to give the home side a comfortable lead at halftime.
Now playing with the elements it was easier for the team to control field position, the pack continued to dominate the scrummage. This allowed Denning to fall on the ball at the base of the posts, to score a scrum pushover try. Winning another scrummage No8 Denning picked up the ball and popped it to Ben Moon who passed behind Mitchard to Taylor running an outside angle scoring near the posts. Verden continued to cause problems with his pace and speed and collected two more tries completing his hat trick.
The crowd was well entertained with great free flowing game netting the home side seven tries and a final score 48-8. The team have next weekend off but return to league rugby on the 16th April when they visit Devizes.
26th March 2016
Chippenham 31 Norton 7
With this weekend being the Easter bank holiday, Norton found itself with only enough players to field one side but was due to play two games on Saturday.
The powers to be were insisting that the rearranged second team league game against Gordano was to be played ignoring the fact that both clubs wanted it rearranged. The club decided to take a weaken side to play the Bath Combination Cup fixture rather than taking an unfairly strong side to Gordano.
Norton started the game playing into a strong wind and faced probably the largest pack of forwards it has come up against in recent years, that said the pack controlled the set piece.
The team had five young players making first tem debuts plus veteran player Richard Slater. Fly half Slater belied his age, 51 as he kicked into the strong wind and caused the opposition problems with ball in hand. During one attack he skipped through the defence beating three players and looked to be in the clear but was hauled down by the quicker opposition backs.
Chippenham went into half time with a 19-0 lead with their strong backs leading scoring their third try right on the 40min mark.
Now with the wind at their back Norton looked forward to gaining some territory advantage, Chippenham now defended resolutely and prevented the visitors making the most of this territory.
The referee made his mark on the game as he brandishing yellow cards at will and awarded Norton their only score of the game a penalty try having told the Norton captain what he was before the scrum was set.
The young players did well against the higher league opposition especially Jack Johnson the second team scrum half who accounted himself well. Had Norton had a fielded a full team the sore would have been closer the forwards easily matched the higher league opposition.
Chippenham added further scores through their strong backs and ended the game with 31-7 victory.
Next weekend the team is back to league rugby with Wimbourne visiting Norton Down, but before that game the Junior section play hosts to Beccechaims RFC.
19th March 2016
Midsomer Norton 31 Dorset Dockers 14
Winning the toss Norton chose to play up the slope and set about controlling possession and territory Fear and Gimson ruled the line out and the pack drove Dorset Dockers back in the scrummage. So much so the home crowd could not understand how Norton’s dominating scrum was not awarded penalties by the referee.
The first try of the day came when prop Jenner broke free the attack was taken on by Moon and Denning before the ball was feed to the other prop Edgell. He went on a rampaging run outstripping the defence to score, Moon added the conversion. The next quarter of the game was scrappy with both sides giving away penalties, Moon slotted two but Dockers miss all of theirs.
An uncharacteristic mistake from number 8 Denning who dropped ball the ball at the back of a scrummage allowed Dockers their best attacking chance of the half. This attack was quickly snuffed out by the home defence and their line held fast. The half finished 13 - 0 in Norton’s favour.
The visitors started the half brightly and used the stiff breeze blowing up the hill to good effect. This allowed them some good field position and their two strong running centers caused problems for the home side and this allowed the visitors to score two converted tries.
The home forwards were still giving the team a good platform to play off of and from one set piece Denning ran off the base of a scrummage, this allowed Murphy to pick a great line and gain 20 yards before being downed in a tackle, unfortunately he had to be removed from the field of play after suffering an injury in the tackle.
Tom Fear added the side’s second score when he continued a forward drive and crashed over from some quick second phase ball. The lead was extended with try from captain Denning.
Overall this was a poor performance by the team but they won the game and gained the try bonus point with a last minute try by second row Gimson. In the end it was a comfortable win 31- 14. Next week the team visit Chippenham to play in the quarter final of the Bath Combination Cup
5th March 2016
Sherborne 30 Midsomer Norton 29
Norton travelled to Sherborne and will rue yet another poor start away from home. Playing up quite a steep slope, the forwards were easily in control in the set piece. But did not protect the ball in contact allowing the home side to turn the ball over, and quickly counter attack. Sherborne took an early lead with a penalty but Moon equalized with only ten minutes played.
It looked like the home side would go into the half time break with a 13-3 lead but the last few minutes of the half saw both sides score. Norton from a push over try by their captain Denning and the home side breaking through some weak tackles to score a converted try, extending their lead to 12 points at the break 20-8.
Norton now had the slope in their favour and intended to play a territory game and use their powerful forwards to control the game. The first try of the second half came quickly when Denning added his second from a driving maul, Moon added the conversion.
Immediately from the restart Sherborne attacked the Norton line. Winning the ball, it was fed to fly half Abbott under pressure, his clearance kick was charged down. The home side collected the ball and scored under posts.
Norton now had to attack at every opportunity and their strong runners came into play Murphy and Mitchard came close to scoring. But it was their second row Gimson who crossed the line twice and with Moon adding the extra points, took the lead for the first time 27-29 with ten minutes left to play.
All Norton had to do now was to close the game out unfortunately Sherborne kicked well for territory and won a line out and their flyhalf kicked a drop goal to take a one-point lead to the end of the game.
Norton did get two points from the game but cannot be this complacent in their remaining league games.
27th Feb 2016
Bradford on Avon 3 Midsomer Norton 41
For the second week on the trot Norton started the first half playing up the slope and into the wind. Knowing it would be difficult to make ground with the boot the team tried to play with the ball in hand and at pace, but for the first quarter moves were rushed and mistakes made. The first score of the day came when scrum half Moon picked up the ball from a ruck and fed Denning, running a hard line into the ruck, to crash over the try line. Moon added the conversion.
Bradford tried to use the elements to gain ground but on several occasions over cooked the kicks which gave the advantage back to Norton. The home side did manage to get on the score board but only with a penalty kick Norton’s defence stopped any try scoring opportunities.
Norton’s next score came in similar circumstances to the first but with flanker Button crashing over following a long period of pressure. The visitors continued to put pressure on Bradford with Mitchard Murphy, Holmwood and Gimson carrying the ball well. Norton’s third try came when the referee awarded the score to Sawkins, after Mitchard had the ball stripped from his grasp while in the act of scoring with Sawkins diving on the loose ball.
Norton led at half time 3-17 knowing they would have the strong wind behind them for the next forty minutes.
The back row continued to lead the charge with Button and Denning, the latter playing the first whole game since injury, quickly adding a second try a piece, taking the game to 3-31. Following Norton’s fifth try Bradford struggled with the restart, the ball hung up in the air allowing second row Gimson to catch the ball. He broke though the flagging defence with a zigzagging run cross the line near the posts to take the score to 3-36.
Turning a ball over in their own 22m replacement prop Will Edgell fed it to centre Mitchard, who broke through the initial defence and passed it to Rowles, Norton’s fullback, who outstripped the defence on the outside to score in the corner. The final tally of seven tries and three conversions earned Norton a bonus point win taking then to within one point of the league leaders Royal Wootton Bassett with five matches left to play.
This Saturday Norton travel to Sherborne where they know a good win is the only option to keep them in the title race.
20th Feb 2016
Norton 5 Royal Wootton Bassett 3
Royal Wootton Bassett the league leaders visited Norton Down on Saturday for the top of the table clash.
Winning the toss Norton’s captain Denning decided to start the game playing up the hill into a very strong wind. The elements made it virtually impossible for fly half Abbott to gain any ground with the boot but he ensured the ball went into touch. This gave the forwards a chance to regain the ball, as the lineouts were a lottery. The pack put in an incredible amount of work dominating the scrummage and the breakdown allowing the team to play the game in the Bassett half and defend the half way line as if it was the try line.
When Wootton Bassett tried to kick for territory they totally underestimated the power of the wind and repeatedly kicked the ball out on the full. Bassett did manage to cross Norton’s try line once but the last ditched tackle by Denning and Moon, allowed Moon to get under the ball and convince the referee the ball wasn’t grounded. The only points they managed to score was from a penalty kick.
Norton’s powerful scrummage allowed their No8 to feed scrum half Moon who switched with winger Jason Holmwood running great line. He beat a number of defenders with footwork before offloading to flanker Sawkins to score. The home side finished the half with a hard won 5-3 lead.
The team now had the elements in their favour but the conditions were worsening as the game continued making it harder to control the ball. Norton spent most of the next 40min the Wootton Bassett half but the visitors defended resolutely keeping them at bay.
Winning the ball in a breakdown, the referee played advantage as Wootton Bassett had infringed, but strangely as Norton crossed the try line to score he pulled them back and awarded the penalty. Norton had one other chance as a ball was fly hacked through, centre Murphy tried to pick up but knocked on with the line at his mercy. Although the half was scoreless it was very tense and the game finished 5-3 in Norton’s favour.
This win keeps Norton’s promotion hopes alive closing in on the leaders but there is still a lot of work to do.
13th Feb 016
North Dorset 25 Midsomer Norton 23
The side started poorly committing to many numbers into the break downs, this left space out wide which was where North Dorset strengths were. The home side quickly ran up a 12 point lead scoring two tries. Norton’s troubles were increased as experienced full back Rowles was forced to leave the field after being knocked unconscious in a tackle.
Norton’s pack slowly started to take control of the game and gained some field position, Fly half Abbott kicked a penalty into the corner. The ball was easily secured at the lineout and a maul set up, flanker Sawkins was in the driving seat and opened Norton’s account with a try.
Button soon added a second after a characteristic powerful run barrelling the opposition out of the way before crossing the line. Awarded a scrummage 15m out from the North Dorset line the visitors drove the home pack back 10m before Denning on his return from injury picked the ball up 5m out and powered over the line for his sides third try.
At the half way mark Norton had wiped out North Dorset’s early points to lead 12-15.
North Dorset came back into the game scoring a converted try and Norton’s indiscretions allowed two further penalties taking they tally to 25. Centre Martin kicked a penalty goal and Gimson capped another fine game with a try from another lineout drive. This left Norton still chasing the game into the final minutes, but it seemed prop Edgell would score when he powered through a gap. But he was knocked off balance and unable to off load the ball to his support runners. This was Norton’s last opportunity to score and the game ended with a disappointing 25-23 loss.
Jack Rideout started his first 1st team game in an unfamiliar position, the 2nd team flanker started on the wing partnering Danny Moon a scrum half on the opposition wing. This result could prove decisive as the season comes to a close and the team could regret the poor start and missed kicks.
Next Saturday Norton play hosts to Royal Wotton Bassett the league leaders.
23rd Jan 2016
Marlborough 19 Midsomer Norton 0
orton started the game well playing the majority of the first half in their opponent’s territory. Marlborough although on the back foot defended well and deprived Norton of an early score. Chances went begging through a series handling errors and poor ball retention. Marlborough themselves made a number of errors but Norton were unable to capitalize on some loose ball.
Mid way through the half Norton suffered a couple of setbacks when flanker Sawkins had to be replaced following a head injury and winger Luke Murphy having to leave the field of play with a suspected broken ankle.
Unfortunately, a combination of poor decision making and execution prevented Norton from using the possession to score and the half ended all square 0-0.
Now playing down the slope Marlborough’s ex premiership prop Chris Budgen’s experience started to influence the game with the home side slowly taking control of the scrummage. This allowed the home side a good platform to launch attacks.
Ten minutes into the half Marlborough won some quick ball broke down the left hand wing to score the first try of the day which they converted. Marlborough now could sense a victory and doubled their efforts making Norton defend hard in the 22 metre area. The next ten minutes saw Norton have prop Jenner yellow carded and Marlborough extend their score with a second try.
Now a man down Norton had their backs against the wall having to defend against a more and more confident Marlborough. It took the home side a further 10 minutes before they added a 3rd try to the scoreboard, this was converted taking the score to 19-0. Norton had to play the last few minutes of the game reduced again to fourteen men when their other prop Edgell yellow carded, but were able not to concede more points
This was Norton’s second loss of the season and the team must bounce back when they entertain Walcot at home next Saturday
16th Jan 2016
Midsomer Norton 45 Frome 0
Saturday saw Frome travel to Norton Down for the return league fixture and to complete the second part of the Somerset Standard Cup clash, now both teams compete in Southern Counties South league this is played for over the two games with the club having the best aggregate score taking the silverware. Following the early season win Norton took a 72-point lead into this competition but were fully aware of Frome’s recent form.
Frome put Norton under pressure right from the kickoff having turned over the first ruck of the game, the next few phases in the match Frome had Norton defending on their own line but Frome were unable to capitalise and the home side cleared the lines. Norton then took control of the game scoring two tries in the first 15 minutes, from sweeping attacks which show cased their strong running backs. Mitchard running from deep carried the ball up to the halfway line before freeing Luke Murphy on the left wing to score in the corner. Full back Jack Rowles was unlucky as he was halted just short of the line after a long run.
A second try soon followed with the team showing some great Harlem offloading skills and support play to allow fly half Abbott to score near the top touch.
For the next twenty minutes Frome set up camp in the Norton half putting pressure on the try line but the home defence dug deep and was up to the task. They deprived Frome of a score with strong tackling and good organization and held the ball up on a number of occasions after Frome crossed the line.
Surviving this onslaught Norton scored a third try just before halftime with winger Jason Homewood touching down in the right hand corner.
Now playing with the added advantage of the slope the forwards took control of the set piece and controlled field position. Tries started to flow with the team scoring 6 more Mitchard, Gimson, Rose and Button adding their names to the scoresheet with Murphy and Holmewood collecting their second. The team stays second in the league but with a game in hand and retained the Somerset Standard Cup with an aggregate score of 117 – 0.
19th Dec 2015
Midsomer Norton 27 Devizes 5
Norton welcomed Devizes to Silver Street to play their last home game before Christmas the teams were greeted by a strong wind blowing straight down the pitch. Captain Fear decided to play into the elements and learn from last week’s game and keep the ball tight.
The forwards set about controlling the set piece with Gimson, Matthews and Fear confident on their own lineout ball and putting pressure on the opposition’s, stealing a few. The front row Jenner, Fuller and Edgell did their bit marching their opponents backwards in the scrum. Although most of the first half was played in the Devizes half it was the visitors who opened the scoring. A Norton mistake, a Mitchard kick was charged down, the Devizes players reacted first and won the foot race to the line.
Strong running from both forwards and backs and some intelligent kicking pinned the visitors back making them defend for large periods. Full back Rowles had a busy afternoon fielding clearing kicks and running out of defence, one such attack it looked as if he would run the length of the pitch to score but was bundled into touch. This style of play led the home supporters into hoping for a score before half time. The team answered their wishes and put pressure on the Devizes lineout, five metres from their line, this allowed Button to pounce on a tapped ball leveling the scores at 5-5.
The second half saw Norton relentless in attack and dominated the half aided by the elements now in their favour. Second row Gimson continued to have a strong game running with the ball and after breaking the defence timed a perfect pass to the supporting Mitchard, who had the easiest of run ins to open the scoring in the second half.
Captain Fear scored the second try of the half from a pick and drive from a scrummage he touched down at the base of the right hand post Abbot added the extra points. Flanker Sawkins added the bonus point try as he controlled a driving maul only having to touch the ball down as the rest of the pack forced him over the line, making the final score 27-5.
The team stay top of the league for the Christmas break with the next league game away to Bradford on Avon on the 9th Jan 2016. But before that there is the annual President’s v Chairman’s game held on Boxing Day. All players welcome to come and run off some Christmas Dinner.
12th Dec 2015
Wimborne 22 Midsomer Norton 22
Norton started the game with a bang flanker Sawkins scoring a quick try from a driving maul. Unfortunately, Wimborne’s lowly league position and this quick score seemed to give Norton a false sense of security. Wimborne had a much strengthened squad with seven players back took advantage of this lack of concentration, quickly levelling the score from a driving maul of their own. Confidence from this score and the strong wind helped the home side to control the first half. Norton made to many mistakes as they tried to play expansive rugby in the poor conditions allowing Wimborne to capitalise on dropped passes and poor ball retention
Wimborne extended their lead with a converted try and a penalty going into the half time break with a 15-5 lead.
It wasn’t long before Norton closed the gap with a well worked try with winger Murphy, outstripping the defence to wide out on the left, Abbott was unable to convert.
Norton’s comeback faltered when flanker Button was issued a yellow card for a clear out at a ruck which the referee adjudged to be a neck roll. Wimborne took advantage of the extra man and scored a converted try extending their lead, to 22-10. Just as the Norton team was restored to its full complement of players they lost influential player Gimson to what could be a long term injury. Time was now against the team but captain of the day Tom Fear gave them some hope, scoring a try closing the gap to seven points.
As the game came to a close Norton throw everything into attack as the game went into injury time Fear crossed the line for the second time scoring the forth bonus point try. This just left Abbott with a kick to level the score holding his nerve he slotted the kick. Norton were lucky to come away with the draw and to be still top of the league with Wotton Bassett now level on points.
5th Dec 2015
Dorset Dockers 8 Midsomer Norton 12
Saturday saw Norton travel to Verwood to play Dorset Dockers for the very first time. The game started poorly for Norton as in the very first minute their captain Denning suffered an injury that could well keep him out of the game for some time. The team had to reorganize the pack but were lucky to have second row Ben Mathews, himself just coming back from injury, on the bench.
The game restarted with Norton playing into a very strong wind and the home side used this to pin the visitors into their own half. The Norton forwards set about taking control of the game and completely dominated both the scrum and lineout, seemingly winning opposition ball at will.
Dockers scored first with a penalty goal, after the pressure the wind allowed them to put on the Norton 22m area. But as much as Norton were in control of the set piece, Dockers were competing well in the loose, although illegally at times which led to them having a player sin binned. Now with an additional player Norton scored the first try of the game. Second row Tom Fear won a lineout, the ball was fed to centre Richard Martin who carried up into the defence, quick recycling in the ruck allowed the ball to be passed back to Fear who scored wide out.
The half ended with Norton having a slim 3-5 lead but knowing they would have the strong wind in their favour for the next 40 mins.
Norton didn’t have everything their own way in the second half as the Dockers showed how dangerous their back line is as they ran everything out of defence causing some problems. But strong tackles and running from centres, Mitchard and Martin kept the home side pinned back in their own territory. After a long period of pressure Fear collected his second try of the game as he dived to score against the bottom of the posts, fly half Abbott added the extra points. The Norton pack carried on dominating the set piece but weren’t able to convert this possession into points. Dockers continued to attack at every opportunity and eventually scored a try wide out but were unable to convert. The Norton supporters were glad when the final whistle was blown, and the team continues to stay at the top of the league.
21st Nov 2015
Midsomer Norton 18 Sherborne 8
A strong North wind was blowing across Norton Down and the team started the game playing downhill but into this fierce wind. The visitors Sherborne started brightly using the elements to help them gain territory advantage. Sherborne soon took an early 3 point lead when the home side were forced to give away a penalty defending their own line. It soon became obvious how the visitors hoped to build a first half lead when they attempted a penalty kick from the half way line, the home side set about playing in the opposition’s half and not giving penalties away. Upping their game Norton soon had the visitors under pressure and were awarded a kickable penalty of their own, fly half Abbott stepped up to slot the ball over to level the score.
Strong running from forwards Denning and Button along with centres Martin and Mitchard kept Sherborne pinned back in their own half with fullback Rowles fielding and returning any ball kicked out of defence. Gaps started to show in the visitors defence and Norton extended their lead with tries from Button and Mitchard ending the half with a 13-3 lead.
The home side started the second half intending to set siege on the Sherborne line, Abbott controlled field position with intelligent kicks, but the side found it hard to break the Sherborne defence. Wingers Murphy and Holmwood were able to show their attacking abilities both making strong runs and Holmwood was unlucky not to have scored when the referee adjudged him to have knocked the ball on in the act of grounding it, having followed a Abbott kick through.
Both centres continued to show their power with a second try from Mitchard and Martin having found some open space was unlucky to be hauled down just short of the line. With all of the home team committed to scoring the forth bonus point try, Sherborne managed to turn the ball over on their try line and broke out to score in the right hand corner at the other end of the pitch.
The Norton forwards dominated the game but struggled the whole game with the referee’s interpretation of laws especially in the lineout. Despite the team being pleased to be back to their winning ways they were disappointed not to have the bonus point try.
14th Nov 2015
Royal Wootton Bassett 12 Midsomer Norton 6
The afternoon started badly for Norton when they arrived at the Royal Wootton Bassett club house only to find they had left their shirts at Norton Down. Their hosts kindly supplied them with a spare set. The game started in dismal weather and this continued for the whole game. Norton won the toss and elected to play up the slight slope and into the wind first half.
The Wootton kick-off caught the wind and went straight in to touch, The Norton forwards showed their intent at the first scrummage driving their opposition off of the ball, but this was the only part of the game that they were to dominate for the entire afternoon. The weather made both teams line out a lottery so Norton’s normal supply of ball from this set piece became erratic.
Wootton Bassett scored the first points of the game following a borderline late tackle penalty, which the home side turned down the 3 points and kicked to the corner, the Visitors managed to hold the driving maul at bay but after several concerted attacks Wootton Basset crashed over the line. The Norton defence had been working very hard to keep the home side out but finally ran out of cover. The rest of the half was very even with neither side really able to get the upper hand.
Norton ended the half pleased with their efforts having a slim 5-6 lead with fly half Ben Taylor having scored two penalties goals. Norton were now looking forward to playing down the slight slope with the wind at their backs but Mother Nature intervened as the wind changed direction.
The second half was very much like the first with both sides having periods of pressure with the defences of both sides having to compete hard to clear their lines. At times Norton tried to play too much rugby in the poor conditions, making handling errors and giving interception passes which gave their opposition easy possession. As the game neared the 40 minute it seemed as if Norton would continue their winning run but a speculative kick from the home side’s fly half caused confusion in the Norton defence allowing the Wootton Bassett winger to pounce on the loose ball and touch down for their second try. The fly half added the extra points as his kick hit the posts but bounced over. This left Norton with no time to regain the lead.
Although Norton’s league winning streak now ended which ran from January 2015, they are still top of the league and look forward to playing host to Sherborne this coming Saturday,
7th Nov 2015
Midsomer Norton 20 North Dorset 13
Windy weather greeted the teams to Norton Down but this chased the rain away and the game started in bright sunshine
North Dorset with the added benefit of the slope in the first half, hoped to make the most of these conditions but the home side kept the ball in their hands and controlled possession for most of the 40 minutes.
Early in the half Norton lost centre Jack Rowles to an injury which led to a reshuffle with Luke Murphy joining the field of play. With the team playing with pace and energy Norton mounted attack after attack and after a series of forward drives, led by second row Gimson, Flanker Joe Button rounded the defence and dived over in the corner. Moon was unable to add the conversion.
Norton extended the lead after Fear won a lineout on the left hand side of the field, setting up a characteristic driving maul Edgell was driven over the line
The home pack continued the onslaught and while attacking the top right hand corner a North Dorset prop was adjudged to have killed the ball illegally and was issued a yellow card. While down to 14 men North Dorset tried to use the elements to their advantage. Their fly half hoisted a high ball the Norton winger was unable to collect and the visitors pounced on the loose ball and scored a try, which was converted.
Prop Mat Edgell added a second try to his tally when he found some space on the blind side wing and drove over to score in the corner. With a strong scrummage and faultless line out Norton had had a lot of good possession but they went into half time with a slim five point lead, knowing they had squandered too much ball in contact. These mistakes had allowed the visitors to clear their lines on a number of occasions.
Half way through the half Norton’s injury list was extended when they lost influential 2nd row Gimson with a bruised hip.
The second half had seen North Dorset up their work rate and put a lot of pressure on the home team’s line but they responded with a fine defensive display ensuring that North Dorset did not score a single point in the half. Denning collected the only points of the half when score from a driving line out.
Norton’s defence won the game with a number of players, especially, Sawkins and Martin, putting in fine displays working tirelessly to keep the opposition from scoring.
This was a hard fought bonus point win but the team remain unbeaten at the top of the league. Before the game Jonathan Wood of FDC Law presented the Norton captain Matthew Denning with the match ball, continuing their sponsorship of the team.