With the game brought forward to Friday evening because of the Bridgwater Carnival the teams took to the field to be greeted with a fine firework display from a nearby event. The game itself was also very bright and cheerful and good entertainment for the large crowd.
Bridgwater gave a home debut to new prop, Christian Preece and brought back Matt House instead of Andy Hambleton.
Bridgwater were in control for much of the game and fully deserved their victory. They scored six tries, much their best return of the season so far.
Chard were first on the attack and Chris Doak was only just short with a 48m penalty attempt before he was successful with his second attempt from 45m. Matt House missed the chance to equalise with a penalty attempt from 23m.
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Bridgwater took the lead midway through the half when flanker Ollie Dunn, who was in superb form all evening, crashed over under the posts, giving House an easy conversion. Seven minutes later, Dunn was over again, this time following a good run from the Chard 22. This try was unconverted and gave Bridgwater a 12-3 half time lead.
Bridgwater started the second half as they finished the first. Seven minutes in, after a couple of attempts had been thwarted by resolute Chard defence, Rob Allen crashed over under the posts. Will Kerry converted easily.
The bonus point try came after quarter of an hour when Rob Thompson crashed over following a period of sustained pressure. Kerry converted with an excellent kick from wide out. Next it was Dominik Griffin’s chance and he forced his way over for try number 5 again converted by Kerry.
Chard were reduced to 14 men following a silly late charge after the whistle had gone but they did not give up. Whilst short handed they scored perhaps the try of the game when full back Ben Stead, who had looked dangerous every time he had the ball in hand, scythed through the home defence for a superb individual try. Doak’s conversion, taken twice, hit the post.
Bridgwater had the last word with a good move to the right that saw winger Garryn Basson cruise over in the corner. The conversion was just wide and was the final act of the game.
This was Bridgwater’s best performance for many seasons and hopefully signals a turn around in fortunes. Despite losing the first scrum and three or four linesout, the forwards played very well. Some of the driving mauls were almost unstoppable and often took play 30/40 metres up field. The backs looked very lively with ball in hand and ran with purpose. When the ball did go loose, Bridgwater were almost inevitably the first to react and Chard were starved of possession.
Matt Hastie belied his years to put in an excellent display in the loose but every single player contributed hugely to an emphatic home victory. The win moved Bridgwater above Oldfield OB, at least until Saturday’s games, and puts them in touch with the five teams, including Chard, just above them in the league.
Bridgwater & Albion
Tries: Dunn (2), Allen, Thompson, Griffin, Basson
Cons: House, Kerry (3)
Bridgwater Team: Nick Francis, Garryn Basson, Rob Allen, Will Kerry, Matt House, Dominik Griffin, Roger Drabble, James Bryant, Matt Hastie, Christian Preece, Rob Thompson, Doug Page-Symonds, Nick Spellissy, Ollie Dunn, Dan Kemmish (Capt)
Replacements(all used): Gavin Knight, Rob Prescott, Matt Northey.
Referee: Brian Perry (Somerset Society)
Match report by Tony Pomeroy