Making a mockery of their respective league positions, Bridgwater totally dominated Thornbury in this game to record their first home win of the season. Some determined defence by the Gloucestershire team restricted Bridgwater to only one try in the second half which was almost completely played within the Thornbury 22. However, whilst the win was not enough to lift Bridgwater out of the relegation zone, it will do wonders for the confidence of the players.
Both teams took to the field in Bridgwater shirts as Thornbury were forced to wear Bridgwater’s ‘away’ shirts when the referee deemed there to be a colour clash.
Bridgwater again rang the changes in the team with Andy Hambleton and Will Kerry coming in for their first games and Doug Page-Symonds and Sam Russell on the bench. Rob Prescott also started at tight-head prop.
Bridgwater opened the scoring after 10 minutes when, following a penalty to touch in the right corner, Matt Hastie scored when the resulting rolling maul was driven over the line. Matt House converted with a good kick from wide out.
no images were found
Bridgwater then showed some power that had been lacking for much of the season by totally disrupting a Thornbury scrummage.
Thornbury then took the opportunity to release the pressure and a spirited run from their own line took play to halfway.
Livewire Thornbury scrum half, Jak Evans’ superb break from the resulting scrum took play into the Bridgwater 22 for the first time after 23 minutes. Patient re-cycling of the ball then saw Evans dart over for a typical scrum-half try. Tim Stephens levelled the scores with the conversion.
Just after Nick Francis narrowly failed to touch down a chip kick to the corner for Bridgwater, Thornbury broke away again and some poor tackling allowed Stephens to wriggle over in the corner for a fine individual try to give the visitors the lead, somewhat against the run of play. His own conversion attempt was wide.
Just before half time Nick Spellissy, looking suspiciously offside, picked up a loose ball at a scrum in the Thornbury 22. With Thornbury waiting for the whistle, Spellissy scored under the posts. Perhaps their luck had changed! House’s conversion gave Bridgwater a narrow, but deserved 14-12 interval lead.
Stephens missed a penalty and an ambitious dropped goal attempt early in the second period and Thornbury almost scored when a home clearing kick was charged down but that was as far as it went for the visitors.
Bridgwater attacked for the final half hour and Thornbury conceded a total of eleven penalties – almost all within 10m of their own line. Two defenders were sin-binned and at the first sin bin, of prop Adam Hodgkins, as they could not bring on another front row replacement, they were forced to go down to 13 players and the match to uncontested scrums.
Still Bridgwater could not score – although they claim to have scored three times but the referee could not see the ball grounded. Many spectators wondered why a penalty try was not uppermost in the referee’s mind as the penalty count against Thornbury mounted.
Twice Bridgwater managed to butcher three man overlaps as they almost tried too hard for that elusive try.
Almost as soon as they were restored to fifteen players, Thornbury lost scrum half Evans into the bin. Minutes later when Bridgwater were awarded a free kick at a 5m scrum, skipper Dan Kemmish reacted swiftly, took the tap kick and crashed over for the decisive try, converted by House.
Bridgwater played out the ten minutes of injury time that followed but could not manage the bonus point try.
The large crowd, boosted by the Friends of Bridgwater, were delighted not only at the result but at the way the win was achieved and they gave the players a deserved rousing ovation at the end of the game. All seventeen players used did their bit and it would be as hypercritical to criticise any individual as it would to single anyone out for praise as this was a very good team effort. Yes, by being more clinical in their finishing, Bridgwater could have easily doubled their score and perhaps they should not have conceded either try. But let us savour the win over a league relative high-flyer and look forward to taking on Old Redcliffians – conquerors of previously unbeaten North Petherton this week – at Stockwood Lane next Saturday before hosting Chard on Friday Nov 2nd with a 7-30 pm kick off. This game has been moved to avoid the clash with Bridgwater Carnival on Sat Nov 3rd.
Bridgwater & Albion
Tries: Hastie, Spellissy, Kemmish
Cons: House (3)
Tries: Evans, Stephens
Bridgwater starting team: Andy Hambleton, Garryn Basson, Matt House, Will Kerry, Nick Francis, Dominik Griffin, Roger Drabble, Rob Prescott, Matt Hastie, James Bryant, Ed Driver, Rob Thompson, Nick Spellissy, Ollie Dunn, Dan Kemmish (Capt)
Replacements used: Doug Page-Symonds (for Driver, 34), Sam Russell (for Prescott, h/t)
Replacement not used: Gavin Knight
Referee: Peter Lyes (East Mids)
Match report by Tony Pomeroy