Match report by Tony Pomeroy
(Video to follow Sunday afternoon)
Bridgwater players were greeted with champagne from a supporter when they returned to the dressing room after this third consecutive victory. This first ever league victory over their near neighbours made up in some small way for the late, narrow defeat at Beggars Brook earlier in the season.
The ground was in better condition than last week and fully justified the decision to go ahead with the game. The crowd, in excess of 1000, were well entertained.
Bridgwater welcomed back LJ Chawatama following his time with England Students and Rob Allen replacing the injured Will Kerry.
North Petherton gave Bridgwater first use of the elements and much of the first half was played in and around the North Petherton 22. Bridgwater opened the scoring after 6 minutes. North Petherton infringed at a tackle and Stuart Heal kicked a good penalty across the wind. With Bridgwater pressing, minutes later he hit the bar with a slightly scuffed dropped goal attempt.
North Petherton were defending valiantly until, in the seventeenth minute, Bridgwater put together an unstoppable drive from a 5-metre scrum and Tayler Buller touched down for a try converted well by Heal who added a 40m penalty a few minutes later.
Visiting skipper, Sam Williams, tried to rouse his team by stealing a couple of Bridgwater scrums against the head, but to no avail. Heal stretched the home lead with another penalty before missing one from just inside his own half.
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On the stroke of half time, when a rare North Petherton attack broke down in the home 22, Roger Drabble broke away but was brought back as the pass to him had been forward.
After half time, Harry Roberts showed the strength of the wind when a clearing kick from inside his own 22 went dead at the other end of the field.
The game was much more even in the second period but the home side were generally in control. Roberts opened the visitors account with a penalty when Joe Bussell held on in a tackle.
With rain falling, Heal was very wide and short with a 40m penalty into the wind.
Midway through the half, Damian Griffin got over the home line but could not ground the ball. The visitors kept up the pressure and when Nick Spellissy was yellow carded for making a tackle without retreating at a free kick, North Petherton opted for the scrum instead of an easy three points. They were well rewarded as, from the scrum, the ball was moved to the right and Roberts was credited with a try in the corner. He converted himself with a magnificent kick.
With ten minutes remaining, a North Petherton clearing kick on their own 22 was charged down and the ball carried over his own line by a defender. The first scrum saw a Bridgwater penalty for collapsing and Bridgwater then opted for another scrum – despite being a man short. The result was the same – North Petherton collapsed the scrum – and RFU Panel Referee, Jonathan Healy, had no hesitation in going under the posts for a penalty try, converted by Heal.
With North Petherton attacking desperately at the end, Bridgwater were indebted to Bryan Webb for a couple of bone-crunching try-saving tackles.
In the final act of the game, when Bridgwater hacked out of defence, Roger Drabble’s chase and brave dive to secure the loose ball epitomised the Bridgwater spirit throughout the game.
Bridgwater were delighted not only with the result but the manner in which was obtained. In the second half they were under a lot of pressure but defended stoutly. It was not a day for fluid, running rugby but a good day to ‘win ugly’. At full back, Jon Hill had an excellent game, coping well with a lot of kicks in the second half. The pack were superb with Ollie Dunn at the heart of everything. Bridgwater lost a couple of scrums but everything else was very solid.
With next week’s opponents, St Austell, only achieving a narrow win at Wadebridge, Bridgwater will approach their Cornish trip with the confidence that a hat-trick of wins can bring.
Bridgwater & Albion
Tries: Buller, Penalty try
Cons: Heal (2)
Pens: Heal (3)
Jon Hill, Dan Lang, Garryn Basson, Rob Allen, Bryan Webb, Stu Heal, Roger Drabble, James Bryant, Matt Hastie, Joe Bussell, Doug Page-Symonds, Dan Kemmish (Capt), Nick Spellissy, Ollie Dunn, Tayler Buller.
Replacements all used: Lovejoy Chawatama, Ali Blundell, Sam Knights
Referee: Jonathan Healy – Somerset Referees Society/RFU National Referees Panel