JOEL GIBSON took his season’s tally to 28 tries as he grabbed a double in his side’s 46-28 victory over National Cup finalists Sharlston Rovers.
On a blazing hot afternoon the final league fixture of the season lacked the usual intensity associated with a Thornhill versus Sharlston game and the visitors could be forgiven for having one eye on the following weekend’s cup final.
Sharlston arrived in Overthorpe Park with only one available substitute and the 30th-minute dismissal of Lee Lingard for punching made the visitors’ cause that bit more difficult.
In a closely contested first half Sharlston opened the scoring inside the first minute of play when Lingard sliced up the Thornhill defence to go through a gap and over for an unconverted try.
Thornhill quickly drew level when winger Mindaugas Bendikas broke clear down the touchline before displaying his blistering pace to race over for an unconverted try.
The end-to-end game continued with Sharlston pressing forward as two passes down the attacking line stretched the Thornhill defence before an inside pass allowed Gareth Davies to force his way over. Scott Glassell converted.
Sharlston extended their lead when the ball was once again worked along the attacking line at speed and Lingard darted in at the corner.
An interception try on 23 minutes from Gibson restored some fight in the Trojans’ play. Gibson converted his own try.
Play restarted and Gibson quickly grabbed his second try of the game, created by Jake Hickling when he evaded a Sharlston tackler to slip the ball out to the supporting Gibson, who raced in to give the hosts the lead.
That lead was extended when Danny Ratcliffe split the Sharlston defence to break clear before sending out a pass to the supporting Anthony Harris who went charging over for a try. Gibson converted.
Then came the dismissal of Lingard.
After an altercation with Aaron Briggs, Lingard was shown the red card to end his involvement in play.
Remarkably being reduced to 12 men seemed to galvanise the Sharlston team.
The ball was kicked along the ground and Davies pounced for his second try of the game.
After a stoppage in play Davies went into the bottom corner for a try to complete his hat-trick. Glassell converted to give Sharlston a two-point interval lead.
But in the second half Thornhill rallied to send 12-man Sharlston to a defeat.
A lofted pass out to the wing was plucked out of the air by Joss Ratcliffe to go over for a try. Gibson converted.
Aaron Briggs then broke upfield on a long run and the move ended with Danny Ratcliffe going over for a try which Gibson converted.
Sharlston didn’t give in and a high kick to the corner was latched onto by Luke Beecher to score an unconverted try.
However, the sin-binning of Chris Bingham for striking off the ball proved to be a setback too far for Sharlston as their 11 men wilted in the heat.
Ben Kendall took play forward and slipped a pass out to put substitute Dale Brook over from close range for a try which Gibson converted.
Play restarted and Gibson broke clear and passed to the supporting Danny Ratcliffe who in turn found his brother Sam Ratcliffe in support to go over for a try. Gibson converted.
At the request of the Sharlston players the referee blew for full-time after 73 minutes of play.