This comfortable bonus-point win assured Bridgwater & Albion of a place in this league next season and brought them level with opponents, Clevedon, on 54 points. Had they not gifted Clevedon a late try, then Bridgwater would have gone ahead of Clevedon in the league on points difference.
Bridgwater brought Garryn Basson into the side with backs coach Simon Martin dropping out. Nick Spellissy’s injury also saw Mitch Windsor starting in the back row and Roger Drabble returning to the squad.
Matt Hastie, on his 200th appearance, led the home side out to rousing applause from the crowd.The first half played in dismal, damp conditions was a bad as the weather. Most of the game was played between the respective 22’s. Clevedon had first use of the elements and Bridgwater kicked too much into the wind. The only score was a short-range penalty for Bridgwater kicked by fly half Stuart Heal when Clevedon scrum half George Towers was sent to the sin bin.
Six penalties against Clevedon in the first quarter of an hour were too many for referee, Brian Perry and Towers paid the penalty. For Clevedon, Mike Taylor missed a long dropped goal attempt and a 30m penalty. A downside for Bridgwater in the first half was the loss of three line-outs, an almost un-heard-of occurrence!
The second half was an entirely different affair. Bridgwater pressed from the kick off and after James Bryant had gathered a loose ball on the Clevedon 22, taking advantage of a wild slap-back from a defender, the ball reached Rob Allen who crashed through several attempted tackles to score near the posts. Heal converted easily.
Such was the strength of the breeze that a Heal kick from his own 22 went dead at the other end. Following a short period of Clevedon pressure, Matt Hastie broke away for Bridgwater and started a movement involving Allen and Arg Saliarelis that ended with the Greek International winger losing the ball in a tackle on the goal-line.
Bridgwater continued to press and Allen and Ollie Dunn were both tackled within metres of the line but Bridgwater had to be content with another Heal penalty.
Minutes later, having kicked a wonderful 60m touch-finder, Heal was injured and replaced as he tried to catch his own deft chip ahead right under the opposition posts. He was replaced by Roger Drabble with Dominik Griffin moving out to fly-half.
Bridgwater had all the play but former Albion player, Ali Blundell, eased the pressure momentarily when he made 40m following an interception in his own 22. Dunn then made a wonderful 40m break up the left touchline to put Bridgwater back on the attack. Steve Hunt, former Bridgwater skipper now doing the same job at Clevedon, was then binned for picking up Hastie and dropping him to the ground long after the whistle had gone.
The resulting penalty to the corner brought the inevitable driving maul before Bridgwater moved the ball right and Dominik Griffin scored under the posts. Ashley Honeywell converted.
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Bridgwater’s third try came when a Clevedon defensive kick went, for them, in the wrong direction and ended up going into touch on his own line. Mitch Windsor made a superb line-out catch and Lovejoy Chawatama coming on the peel took the pass and scored near the posts. Honeywell again converted.
Clevedon then got a consolation try when their third interception of the day saw Oscar James cruise 50m for a try converted by Taylor. This score ultimately kept Clevedon above Bridgwater in the league by dint of a slightly better points difference.
Allen almost got the fourth but was unable to hold on to a great chip ahead by Roger Drabble. The centre, however, was not to be denied and he got the bonus point try with a magnificent 35m solo run for the try converted by Honeywell.
In a rampant second half, Bridgwater scored four tries and could have had four more. After three consecutive very good victories, the Bridgwater players must be regretting the season is coming to an end. They will hope to finish at Cullompton next week by gaining revenge for a home defeat in the first match of the season.
Hopefully the majority of the team will still be in place next season when the club will be looking to get as near the top of the table as possible.
Bridgwater & Albion
Tries: Allen (2), Griffin, Chawatama
Cons: Heal, Honeywell (3)
Pens: Heal (2)
Bridgwater Starting Team: Joel Clark, Garryn Basson, Rob Allen, Ashley Honeywell, Arg Saliarelis, Stuart Heal, Dominik Griffin, Lovejoy Chawatama, Matt Hastie, James Bryant, Dan Kemmish (Capt), Rob Thompson, Ollie Dunn, Mitch Windsor, Tom King.
Replacements all used: Gary Saunders, Matt Northey, Roger Drabble
Referee: Brian Perry (Somerset Society)
Match report by Tony Pomeroy, Photographs by Ben Pomeroy