Match report by Tony Pomeroy
Bridgwater’s dominant pack laid a solid foundation for this comfortable victory. They won at least three scrums against the head, were secure in the lines-out, with Dan Kemmish and his cohorts reigning supreme, and very strong in the loose. However, thanks to a registration indiscretion at the end of last season, this five point victory only offsets the five point deduction applied by the league, to leave Bridgwater propping up the table on zero points.
Bridgwater’s seven tries was the most scored in a league match for many seasons and but for some loose passing, the try tally could have been much higher.
Bridgwater made three enforced changes. Taylor Buller replacing Ali Blundell (following his red card at St. Austell) with Matt Hastie and Roger Drabble coming in instead of the injured Gavin Knight and Ollie McGeown. Joe Bussell returned to action with Scott Woolford dropping to the bench. New Australian recruit, James Martin, made his first appearance on the Broadway ground with Jervis Manupenu and Sam Chillingworth (1st XV debut) also appearing at home for the first time this season.
Bridgwater started well spending the early minutes in the visitor’s half. Thornbury, however, after only seven minutes were twelve points up through tries from Dai Matthews and Dan Hussey with the first converted by Tim Stephens, as they took their chances well.
The rest of the half belonged to the home side. After 15 minutes, Bridgwater’s full back, James Martin, scythed through for a try under the posts converted by Stu Heal. On 21 minutes, Bridgwater took a lead that they were never to relinquish. At a line out on the visitors 22, a throw to the front man caught the opposition unawares. He immediately flipped the ball on to skipper Ollie Dunn on a front peel and his pace took him clean through the defence for a try. Heal again converted.
Bridgwater continued to press and very soon fly half Jervis Manupenu ghosted through for a third try again converted by Heal.
After 36 minutes, the home side got a four-try bonus point when following a turn-over in the visitors 22, Rob Allen scored the try and Heal again converted for a 28-12 half time score.
Thornbury started the second half in very lively fashion and after only three minutes, full back Ed Sheldon set off on a coruscating 35m run that brought him an excellent individual try, again converted by Stephens. However, that was Sheldon’s final act as he limped off with a knee injury.
[Not a valid template]
Bridgwater again took the game to the visitors and after several chances went begging, a driving maul saw ace poacher Matt Hastie driven over for a fifth try again converted by Heal.
Play became disjointed with injuries and replacements abounding and it was not until the final quarter when Bridgwater intercepted a loose Thornbury pass. The ball reached Allen who bulldozed over for his second try, converted by Heal.
Thornbury then achieved a bonus point when replacement full back, Ross Baker, was on the end of a visiting break out of defence and cruised 50m for a try converted by Stephens. In the final minute, Thornbury attempted to run the ball out of defence again but this time the ball only reached Martin who, when he looked up, had an unobstructed 35m jog to the line. Heal showed compassion by pulling his kick wide, leaving the home side victorious by 47-26.
All connected with the club were delighted not only at the result, but by the positive play. Yes, there were errors – they could have scored another three tries at least – and they gave away a couple of soft tries but overall the performance was extremely encouraging. Next week the team visit Avonmouth OB, who have suffered defeats in each of their two opening games, before hosting Bideford on Sept 27th who are currently unbeaten. The team will approach the games with confidence.
The Bideford game will be preceded by a buffet lunch at the club and tickets can be obtained from the club office.
Bridgwater & Albion Tries:
Allen (2), Martin (2), Dunn, Manupenu, Hastie
Tries: Matthews, D Hussey, Sheldon, Baker
Cons: Stephens (3)
James Martin, James Brakes (rep Sam Chillingworth 57), Rob Allen, Stu Heal, Nick Francis, Jervis Manupenu, Roger Drabble, James Bryant (rep Scott Woolford 63), Matt Hastie, Joe Bussell, Tayler Buller, Dan Kemmish, Bryan Webb ( rep Josh Sturdy 51), Ollie Dunn (Capt), Nick Spellissy
Referee: Brian Perry (Somerset Society)