Ollie Thorley’s hard work during lockdown reaped a spectacular reward as he joined an exclusive try-scoring club during Gloucester’s 46-30 Premiership victory over Leicester.
Thorley became only the third player to score four first-half tries in a Premiership game, following former Bath wing Tom Voyce in 2001 and ex-Wasps speedster Christian Wade four years ago.
The 23-year-old England hopeful completed a quartet of scores in just 21 minutes as Gloucester ended a run of three-successive home league defeats.
“I have my team-mates to thank for putting some of the tries on a plate for me, and I was really happy we found our flow in attack,” Thorley said.
“I have worked hard over lockdown on my speed and power. It was nice to have that time just to try and up-skill and do everything you can.
“I did a lot of hand-eye stuff and a lot of speed and power work. It gave the body a chance to get fresh, but I’m pleased to be back out there and I am enjoying it.”
Gloucester attack coach Alex King paid tribute to uncapped Thorley, adding: “His work with Jonny May and the other wingers at the club is crucial to how we want to play the game.
“Ollie scored four today, but the work of Jonny and (full-back) Jason Woodward was outstanding as well. It is a collective effort.”
Asked about Thorley’s England hopes, King said: “That’s a question for (England head coach) Eddie Jones, not myself.
“I just ask Ollie to get better every week. He knows his way to the line, and we are lucky to have two English wings on the pitch today of that calibre.”
Ollie Thorley scored his 4th try in the 30th min the fastest 4 tries since the start of a @premrugby game, but his 4 tries in a 21 min spell was not as quick as ex-@gloucesterrugby's Lesley Vainikolo who scored his 2nd, 3rd, 4th & 5th tries in an 18 min spell v Leeds in 2007.
— Stuart Farmer (@Stu_Farmer) August 30, 2020
Leicester did their best to steal Thorley’s thunder, fighting back from 30 points adrift after 33 minutes to just six behind midway through the final quarter.
Tigers newcomer Harry Potter scored a box-office solo touchdown for Leicester, while substitutes Jordan Taufua and Cameron Henderson also crossed as the Tigers scored 24 points without reply.
But Thorley, who has twice been part of England Six Nations squads, retained centre-stage, with centre Chris Harris, scrum-half Joe Simpson and replacement Lloyd Evans also claiming touchdowns.
Billy Twelvetrees added four conversions and a penalty for Gloucester, while Zack Henry kicked two penalties and substitute George Ford landed three conversions and a penalty as he inspired Tigers’ ultimately fruitless quest to avoid an 11th league defeat this season.
King said: “Rugby can be like that sometimes. We have all watched games and been in games when teams come back into it.
“We lost a little bit of control in the second half, but I am really proud of the boys that they found a way to win.
“Sometimes it is hard to get momentum back when you have lost it, and we need to look at why that happened.”
The introduction of Ford and his fellow England half-back Ben Youngs inspired Leicester’s recovery.
Tigers rugby director Geordan Murphy said: “We know that George and Ben can add a bit of nous to any performance.
“They did a big job, but we learnt some big lessons about the others, too.
“We came here to go for a win, so it’s disappointing, but to have a massive U-turn in the second half is something we can learn lessons from.”