This week a chilly but sunny Saturday saw Brentwood make the trip to very familiar rivals Thurrock. Both teams had had a similar start to the season with the same number of wins apiece with Brentwood marginally ahead on league points but Thurrock having downed Harlow the week prior.
It was not an auspicious start for Brentwood who found themselves 6-0 down in a matter of minutes after some early defensive frailties allowed Thurrock two shots at goal which they duly took. Brentwood however did then liven up a bit and a well-executed 50/22 from Jamie Cox gave them a good attacking platform from which Brentwood soon earned another penalty. The corner was opted for and whilst the lineout was not as cleanly taken as would have been hoped for, the ball found its way back to Kieran Fredericks who had the strength to power through the bundle of bodies and get the ball down over the line. Jamie’s conversion was good, 6-7.
Thurrock took the lead back in the next passage of play with another 3-pointer after a loose Brentwood kick was run back and having, done well to scramble and not concede a try, a soft penalty for a high tackle was conceded when Brentwood’s defence had reset, 9-7.
Brentwood dusted themselves off and started playing some fluid rugby for the next 15 minutes or so. Dan Suttle and Eamon Tiernan were heavily involved in making big gains with their carrying, and when some sharp hands from a combo of Dans, Suttle and Pembroke, set Isaac Kibirige flying free down the wing it looked to all intents and purposes that Brentwood were going to score their second; a well-timed inside pass to Eamon Tiernan putting him on course for the posts. But Thurrock had chased back well and, in trying to be selfless, Eamon went for the risky offload and when the ball hit the ground the opportunity was missed. Coupled with a frustrating penalty concession just metres from the line, it was to be another tale of a costly lack of Brentwood finishing and when Thurrock then attacked from the penalty and Fraser Parris saw what appeared to be a slightly harsh yellow for a high tackle, it felt like Brentwood had lost a pivotal part of the game.
Sure enough, it was Thurrock who scored next with their opening try of the game. Brentwood had made a good job of disrupting an attempted driving maul but found themselves penalised at the following scrum. With Thurrock opting to scrum again it was a simple case of using their man advantage, the ball going wide, and the try being scored in the corner, 14-7.
The remaining ten minutes of the half saw quite a few errors from both sides and a heavy amount of whistling but there was still time for Brentwood’s favourite Achilles’ heel to make another appearance; Thurrock scoring the try just before half time when a loose pass flummoxed Brentwood’s otherwise well organised defence and Thurrock spun their way through some disorientated defenders to score, the conversion taking their lead to 21-7 at half time.
With quite the deficit to make up, Brentwood started the second half more brightly and, with Thurrock giving away a fair few penalties, they were reduced to 14 men for ten minutes for repeat infringing. Brentwood however failed to capitalise on their man advantage whereas as soon as they were restored to 15 men Thurrock were far more clinical in taking their chances; a quick lineout throw catching Brentwood unaware and the try being scored in the corner, 26-7.
Brentwood came back almost immediately, a penalty allowing them to put the ball in the corner and the maul trundling over without too much resistance, James Killington getting the ball down and Jamie’s conversion pulling the score back to 26-14 but that was to be it for any Brentwood revival. Thurrock added another 3 points from the boot shortly after to ensure they were two scores clear, and the score remained 29-14 at full time.
For Brentwood another disappointing outing and sees them slide down to 7th in the league. There will be no let up next week as Brentwood will look to arrest the decline against league leaders Southend. Southend have only lost once this season on the opening day away at Woodford and Brentwood will need to be considerably better to put an end to their 8-match winning run.