Bridgwater brought in Garryn Basson to replace Rob Allen, injured at North Petherton last week and re-instated Ollie McGeown, now recovered from injury, at scrum half. Adrian Tew also joined the front row to replace Joe Bussell.
This was a nail-biting game for both sides. Cleve will be well satisfied with their five point haul whilst Bridgwater had to be content with two points as each side scored four tries.
Despite early Cleve pressure, it was the home side who opened the scoring. With referee Wayne Davis playing advantage, Bridgwater moved the ball left from inside their own half. James Martin made a great break and handed on to Oscar Tregenna who scored in the corner. Martin missed the conversion.
Cleve had a chance to narrow the gap but Ben Roberts pulled his penalty attempt.
Midway through the half, Bridgwater were awarded a free kick on their own 22. They moved the ball left and Martin finished off a scintillating move with a try under the posts that he also converted.
Cleve hit back almost immediately as Simon Mortimer finished off an excellent handling move with an unconverted try in the corner.
Bridgwater were putting themselves under pressure with some loose handling and Joe Hall missed a long range penalty for the visitors. On the half hour, a break by home prop James Bryant put the home side on the attack and a snap 30m dropped-goal attempt by Martin came back off the post.
With home winger Nick Francis looking groggy, Cleve narrowed the gap with a good, but unconverted, try from centre Steve Bath whose powerful running caused the home defence problems all afternoon.
Just on the interval, Cleve pressure saw home skipper Ollie Dunn yellow-carded. The subsequent penalty to the corner resulted in a try for flanker Lewis Beer, converted by Hall and a half time score of 12-17.
Francis was replaced by Roger Drabble at the interval and with Bridgwater still short-handed, Cleve pressure was rewarded with a penalty by Hall.
For Bridgwater. Bryan Webb replaced the injured Ali Blundell.
When Bridgwater won a scrum against the head on the Cleve 22, Tregenna was tackled into touch just short of the line. A penalty was kicked to touch on the right and the subsequent driving maul saw 1st XV débutante Adrian Tew driven over the line for another unconverted try.
Midway through the half, Martin equalised the scores with a short range penalty for Bridgwater.
After 28 minutes, Bridgwater lost Jervis Manupenu to a yellow card and Hall landed the subsequent penalty to regain the lead for Cleve. With five minutes to go, Mortimer got his second try, surprisingly unconverted, to ensure a four-try bonus point for the visitors.
Bridgwater threw everything into the final few minutes. Cleve lost flanker, Beer, to the sin bin and with the final play of the match, the home side achieved their four try bonus point, and also a losing bonus point, when Webb was driven over the line following a period of concerted pressure. Martin converted for a final score of 27-28.
For Bridgwater, James Martin was the stand-out player. He ran well with the ball, defended stoutly and also took over the kicking duties. The forwards scrummaged well but the line-out did not seem as secure as usual, with too much ball lost. The backs showed that most have a good turn of speed and generally defended well.
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The side will hope to make up for this home reverse with a win when they make the short journey up the M5 to Clevedon next Saturday before a blank Saturday to avoid clashing with Bridgwater Carnival. The game originally scheduled for Nov 1st has been postponed until Nov 8th, when we will entertain Cullompton.
Bridgwater & Albion
Tries: Tregenna, Martin, Buller, Webb
Cons: Martin (2)
Tries: Mortimer (2), Bath, Beer
Pens: Hall (2)
James Martin, Nick Francis (rep Roger Drabble h/t) , Garryn Basson, Stu Heal, Oscar Tregenna, Jervis Manupenu, Ollie McGeown, James Bryant, Matt Hastie, Adrian Tew, Ali Blundell (rep Bryan Webb 47), Dan Kemmish, Tayler Buller, Ollie Dunn (Capt), Nick Spellissy.
Rep not used : Dave Norman
Referee: Wayne Davis (Somerset)