Match Report by Tony Pomeroy
Cleve consolidated their lead at the top of the table with this narrow but fairly convincing win at Bridgwater. The home coach, Kevin Innalls, was very unhappy that his side had squandered a 24-3 lead that they had achieved mid-way through the first half as they had to settle for a losing bonus point. The game itself was never a classic but for all that, was an entertaining spectacle to which both sides contributed.
Two early charge-downs put Bridgwater under enormous pressure and Ollie Phillips put the visitors ahead with a simple penalty before missing another kickable chance.
Bridgwater then showed a lot of class as Rob Allen scythed through the visitors. When he was stopped, the ball was cycled left and Arg Sarliarelis got the first try of the afternoon, converted by Heal
On ten minutes, Allen again broke through from 30m to score under the posts. Heal again converted and also added a penalty on the quarter hour.
The third try appeared after 23 minutes when prop Lovejoy Chawatama burst through from 30m to score at the posts. Heal’s conversion made it 24-3.
Philip narrowed the gap with a penalty before Bridgwater imploded in the final minutes of the half. First, a loose kick out of defence was taken by Neil Evans who handed on to Greg Welling on half way. The winger, who ran hard all afternoon, powered through some woeful tackling to score with Philip converting. Minutes later, he repeated the dose when he appeared from a driving maul and dropped over the line. Philip’s conversion – in off the far post -made the half time score 24-20.
Bridgwater had numerous chances to score in the second half – the penalty count in the half was 10-2 in Bridgwater’s favour – but poor decision-making cost them time and again. Even when visiting skipper, Brad Horman, was sent to the bin, they could not make the extra numbers count.
Cleve took the lead midway through the half when replacement Tom Gollop scored an unconverted try in the corner.
The lead was increased minutes later when a Bridgwater clearing kick was charged down by replacement Steve Bush who hacked on and won the race to touchdown – great skill for a prop – and gain a bonus point. Philip converted.
Bridgwater gained a bonus point late on with another Heal penalty. Cleve players were delighted when the final whistle blew.
Hopefully, Bridgwater will have learned from this defeat. When they stuck to the game plan they looked a very good side but all too often they looked a little like headless chickens running aimlessly.
The backs worked well together in the first half and all showed flashes of individual brilliance. Kicking out of hand was generally very good. The forwards were solid. Lineouts were very good apart from two strange losses when the opposition main jumper was in the sin bin. Scrums were solid enough. In the loose the home side were occasionally out-muscled and at times were the recipients of some very dubious off-the-ball incidents. Cleve players also managed to break too many tackles for comfort.
[Not a valid template]
This was a game that should probably have been won and will be looked on as four points dropped rather than one gained. Next week’s opponents, Clevedon, despite losing heavily this week, will be a tough proposition at Coleridge Vale and hopefully Bridgwater will bounce back from this disappointment.
Bridgwater & Albion
Tries: Saliarelis, Allen, Chawatama
Cons: Heal (3)
Pens: Heal (2)
Tries: Welling (2), Gollop, Bush
Cons: Philip (3)
Pens: Philip (2)
Bridgwater Team: Ashley Honeywell, Joel Clark, Rob Allen, Matt House, Arg Saliarelis, Stu Heal, Roger Drabble, Lovejoy Chawatama, Matt Hastie, James Bryant, Rob Thompson, Ali Blundell, Tayler Buller, Ollie Dunn, Dan Kemmish (Capt)
Replacements – all unused – Joe Stradling, Sam Knights, George Sluman
Referee: Wayne Davis (Somerset Society)