Match report by David Pomeroy
Bridgwater & Albion RFC 1st XV started their quest in 2013/14 season with an emphatic victory over newly promoted Bideford RFC. The home side banished the nightmare that accompanied some of the pre-season friendlies and put in a fantastic full team performance to secure the win.
From Bideford’s kick off, Bridgwater looked in complete control and had all the possession until a great team effort put the ball out wide to fast moving prop Lovejoy Chawatama where he (and his newly introduced attempt at a beard) went over the line for the first try of the season. The difficult kick was missed by Stu Heal.
The next 10 minutes of play were nearly all spent in the Bridgwater half, where Bideford put the home side under pressure. Bridgwater’s defence held strong until the 16th minute whereby a Bideford line out on the 5m line resulted in a driving maul over the Bridgwater line. The ball was grounded by no. 5 Richard Norman. The kick was wide.
Some great play and pressure by Bridgwater resulted in a missed 35m penalty by Heal, but this was rewarded seconds later with a great off load by Chawatama to Rob Allen who scored on the far side. This time Heal found the posts with his kick and made the scores 12-5 after 24 minutes.
Bideford never found their way into the Bridgwater half for the remainder of the first half and two more Heal penalties were successful, leaving the half-time score at 18-5.
In the second half, Bridgwater dominated the play. Bideford narrowly missed a penalty by hitting the post. The resultant rebound looked as though it had fallen favourably for Alex Hillman, but his chip forward went just too long and the ball was gathered and grounded by Nick Francis.
Nick Spellissy had come on for Bridgwater in place of Gary Saunders at the interval pushing Rob Thompson to his debut at prop. He has now played in all three rows of the scrum for Bridgwater. He did well in this position using his 6’5″ and near 20-stone frame to good use.
Bideford’s James Buckland left the field with an eye injury when a tackle and perfectly legal fend off by Allen caught him badly. The resultant and correct stoppage by the referee robbed Tayler Buller of a probable try as he was clear by the time the whistle came.
Another nasty injury occurred for the visitors when Adam Crouch was tackled and appeared to be out cold. The resulting treatment by both physios, for concussion and potential neck injuries delayed proceedings for a few minutes.
For the first 25 minutes of the second half, there was stalemate with neither team challenging Joe & Bon at the scoreboard. However after a Bridgwater line out on the opposition 22, some swift play put the ball across the field to Allen, who went over for his second of the match. Heal, now finding his form, again converted.
From the restart, Bideford went on the attack, however a chip forward by Hillman was brilliantly intercepted by Arg Saliarelis who ran half the pitch to score Bridgwater’s best try of the match to the left of the posts and secure them the 4-try bonus point. Heal easily converted.
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Bideford were unlucky not to score again when they were pushed into touch as they crashed over the line by Nick Francis. A second attempt was held up as it went over the line – great defensive play by Bridgwater.
Bridgwater’s new recruit Tayler Buller received a yellow card late in the game when it looked like he was caught deliberately collapsing the maul. This didn’t seem to affect play though as Bridgwater’s Matt House still managed to score after crashing through three Bideford players to take Bridgwater’s 5th try of the match. Heal’s long range attempt at the conversion went wide leaving the final score at Bridgwater 37, Bideford 5.
Bridgwater were rightfully delighted with their performance this afternoon. Even Head Coach Kevin Innalls, was said to be happy – something he rarely admits to.
Bideford will feel dismayed at the score, however the score did not reflect their passion and enthusiasm for the game. They made some careless errors and some defensive play was poor but they should not feel disheartened.
Bridgwater play another home game next Saturday when they face Camborne in what is expected to be much stiffer competition. With today’s performance they appear up to the challenge. Please come along and show your support for the Bridgy Boys.
Bridgwater & Albion:
Tries: Chawatama, Allen (2), Saliarelis, House
Conversions: Heal (3)
Penalties: Heal (2)
Bridgwater’s starting XV: Gary Saunders, Matt Hastie, Lovejoy Chawatama, Ali Blundell, Rob Thompson, Tayler Buller, Ollie Dunn, Dan Kemmish, Jon Hill, Stu Heal, Joel Clark, Matt House, Rob Allen, Arg Saliarelis, Nick Francis.
Replacements (all used): Roger Drabble, Matt Northey, Nick Spellissy
Referee: Brian Perry (Somerset Society)