MATCH REPORT BY TONY POMEROY
With both teams prepared to throw the ball about, an entertaining game developed. Neither side attempted a penalty kick at goal throughout the game, preferring to go for tries.
Bridgwater were missing regular goal-kicker, Stu Heal, who had gone skiing and brought in Steve Ward on the wing.
Bridgwater should have had the game tightly sewn up in the first half. A first half lead of 21-0 was reduced to 21-12 whilst home hooker Matt Hastie spent time in the bin either side of half time and in the final ten minutes, with Bridgwater’s Garryn Basson in the bin, the score slipped from 40-17 to 40-29. Playing a man short for twenty minutes in total had cost Bridgwater 24 points. This should not happen particularly as both ‘offences’ were totally un-necessary and were reckless acts. In another context, they could have proved more damaging to the Bridgwater cause.
Bridgwater’s pack was dominant for much of the game. After six minutes, a good forward drive took Bridgwater close to the visitors line. The ball was released and a lovely inside pass from Ash Pippard wrong-footed the defence leaving Rob Allen an easy run to score the opening try. In the absence of regular kicker, Stu Heal, Tayler Buller took over the kicking duties and landed the easy conversion.
Bridgwater were in control and after 18 minutes a loose kick out of defence by the visitors was fielded on half-way by Bryan Webb. He handed on to Nick Francis who wriggled his way down the touchline before passing inside to Nick Spellissy who scored easily. Buller again converted.
After 26 minutes, Bridgwater appeared to lose the ball forward in the visitors 22. Camels cleared their lines to halfway where the kick was gathered by Webb again. He again made good ground and the ball eventually finished in the hands of Allen who scored his second try, converted by Buller.
Then came the yellow card for Hastie followed immediately by a score for the visitors when skipper, Mark Grubb, crashed over from a driving maul. The try was unconverted leaving the score 21-5 at the interval.
After the restart, visiting full back, Will Pengelly, made a searing break deep into the home 22. This brought pressure to bear on the home defence which cracked again for prop Jack Scott to score. James Grubb converted.
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Bridgwater bounced back and with Wadebridge apparently waiting for a whistle that did not come, Roger Drabble, getting a four try bonus point in the process, scored a typical scrum half try as he darted over from 7 yards. Buller again converted.
Bridgwater continued to attack and James Bryant put Allen through again but he was stopped just short. Bridgwater kept up the pressure and when a forward drive was illegally halted, a penalty try, converted by Buller, was the outcome.
Wadebridge hit back immediately when Pengelly again sliced through the home defence but this time reached the line for a deserved, but unconverted, try.
Hastie won the ball from the kick off and following concerted pressure and a number of penalties, he was at the bottom when a driving maul crossed the line. Buller showed compassion and missed the conversion.
The final ten minutes belonged to the visitors. Basson was binned for slapping the ball away as it emerged from a ruck in the Bridgwater 22 and almost immediately, Scott got his second try, and his side a four-try bonus point, converted by Grubb.
With five minutes to go, replacement Lee Betts got the fifth try for the visitors to make the final score 40-29. Despite this score, the Wadebridge faithful seem resigned to relegation at the end of the season. However, they still have a mathematical chance of escape.
Bridgwater will be concerned at an injury to Nick Spellissy mid way through the second half as they will be to the soft tries they conceded. With Bideford, their final league opponents of the season next week, confident following their defeat of North Petherton, Bridgwater will need to play well to win and ensure they stay above their Devon opponents in the final league table.
Bridgwater & Albion
Tries: Allen (2), Spellissy, Drabble, Hastie, Penalty Try
Cons: Buller (5)
Tries: Scott (2), Mark Grubb, Pengelly, Betts
Cons: James Grubb (2)
Nick Francis, Steve Ward, Rob Allen, Garryn Basson, Bryan Webb, Ash Pippard, Roger Drabble, James Bryant, matt Hastie, Joe Bussell, Ali Blundell, Dan Kemmish, Nick Spellissy, Ollie Dunn, Tayler Buller.
Replacements used: Scott Woolford, Rhys Satchell not used : Simon Martin
Referee: Paul Box (Somerset Society)