The game started almost 20 minutes late as Matson were held up in the car park otherwise known as the M5. With Matson wearing black shirts, Bridgwater opted to wear their white ‘away’ strip.
Matson were in front in this match for only two short sessions – including the final two minutes. The five points gained still leaves them in the third relegation place but only three points behind fellow Gloucestershire side, Drybrook. Bridgwater could not benefit from a loss by Ivybridge and had to be content with two bonus points.
Bridgwater brought Oscar Tregenna back onto the wing and Jordan Brodley at loose head prop with James Bryant swapping to tight head. Nick Spellissy started at number 8 with Taylor Buller on the bench with Rob Thompson and Garryn Basson.
[Not a valid template]
Bridgwater dominated much of the game in possession and territory but all too often could not turn pressure into points. Even when Matson were down to 13 players for a short time, the home side could only manage one unconverted try.
The game started well for the home side. With almost the first move of the game, Bridgwater moved scrummage ball right and winger, Oscar Tregenna, making a return to the 1st XV scored in the corner. Chris Ashwin could not convert into the wind.
When Jordan Brodley won the ball in midfield, Bridgwater moved it left and it reached winger Arg Saliarelis on halfway. His explosive pace and powerful running through attempted tackles saw him travel 50m and get the second try under the posts. Ashwin’s conversion gave the home side a 12-0 lead after eight minutes.
Matson got their game together and a penalty to the corner resulted in a driving maul from the lineout. Second row, Mike Barton was credited with the try, converted superbly by Ryan Woodhouse from the touchline. Five minutes later a repeat performance saw a second try, this time by Conrad Jones again converted by Woodhouse. Bridgwater lost Tregenna to injury with Garryn Basson coming onto the wing.
The visitors’ lead lasted less than five minutes as Ashwin landed a short-range penalty. Bridgwater then increased their lead when skipper, Ollie Dunn, who ran powerfully all afternoon, crashed over for the third try, converted by Ashwin, to give his side a 22-14 interval lead. Just before the break, Bridgwater lost Ali Blundell to injury and he was replaced by Rob Thompson.
Matson started the second half well. A kick out of defence from the kick off hung in the air and centre Aaron Tonks got a boot to it. He then picked up the bouncing ball and almost reached the line. When he was stopped, Matson recycled the ball and Chris Hawkins crossed in the corner for an unconverted try.
From the kick off, Saliarelis was high tackled and a fracas broke out. Jack Knight was yellow-carded for the high tackle. Bridgwater were then awarded a series of penalties close to the home line and Matson were soon down to 13 men when Barton was also yellow carded. Some people wondered about the possibility of a penalty try but Bridgwater’s only reward was an unconverted try, which brought a bonus point, for Nick Spellissy after a driving maul. Taylor Buller replaced Joe Stradling for the home side.
Bridgwater continued to press but could not add to their tally.
Matson hit back and an unconverted try from Aaron Morefield brought Matson a bonus point and the score to a nail-biting 27-24.
Bridgwater almost scored again but Spellisssy lost the ball as he was tackled as he crossed the line.
With only minutes to go, Matson spurned a kickable penalty and were rewarded when the resulting penalty to the corner produced a driving maul. It eventually crossed the home line and Barton was credited with his second try.
The final seconds of the game brought drama when Ashwin had a chance with a 40m penalty but it was pushed wide and Matson had won the most unexpected victory.
Bridgwater will not be happy at losing a game that they controlled for much of the time. The pack provided good ball from lineouts and scrums and the backs looked lively. Credit must be given to Matson’s defence as they tackled as if their lives depended on it but, from Bridgwater’s point of view, this was a defeat snatched from the jaws of victory. Bridgwater still have a mathematical chance of reaching the play-offs but five points today would have made the task slightly easier.
Bridgwater will have been concerned at injuries to Oscar Tregenna and Ali Blundell that forced both players off before half time.
There are no league matches over Easter On April 11th, Bridgwater travel to Camborne, always a difficult place to go, before entertaining St. Austell, who appear to be doomed to relegation, in the final match of the season on April 18th.
Bridgwater & Albion
Tries: Tregenna, Saliarelis, Dunn, Spellissy
Cons: Ashwin (2)
Tries: Barton (2) Morefield, Jones, Hawkins
Cons: Woodhouse (2)
Stuart Heal, Oscar Tregenna (rep Garryn Basson 18), Rob Allen, Chris Ashwin, Arg Sariarelis, Jervis Manupenu, Roger Drabble, Jordan Brodley, Matt Hastie, James Bryant, Ali Blundell (rep Rob Thompson 36), Dan Kemmish, Joe Stradling (rep Taylor Buller 48), Ollie Dunn (Capt), Nick Spellissy