Bridgwater will be disappointed by this defeat – or more accurately the manner of the defeat. The visitors looked the better of two tired sides and with this four point win, Hornets remain favourites to win the league. They are currently in second place, just one point behind St. Austell but crucially, have two games in hand. They also have one game in hand on the chasing clubs, Cleve and Camborne, who are both two points behind.
Bridgwater welcomed Lovejoy Chawatama back from England Students duty and Bryan Webb back from suspension.
Hornets match-winner was full back Matthew Cornish, whose powerful running from deep caused Bridgwater a host of problems. He scored the opening try of the game after six minutes when the ball reached him some 40m from the line and near the right touch line. He tore through a number of attempted tackles and scored a superb individual try under the posts. Jermaine Jones had no trouble with the simple conversion.
For Bridgwater, it was the old story. They had plenty of possession and territory but could not score even when Hornets lost scrum half Sean Disney to a yellow card for a technical offence. There could have been two more cards later in the half when the visitors were twice penalised for foul play but the referee showed a leniency that was perhaps not deserved.
With half time approaching, Bridgwater lost the ball at a defensive scrum and Hornets cleverly chipped the ball to the right corner where Jones touched the ball down just short of the dead ball line. He failed to convert his own try.
On the stroke of half time, Stuart Heal opened the home account with a 40m penalty kick that made the interval score 3-12.
Early in the second half, a Hornets 5m scrum was driven towards the home line where No 8 Matt Parker picked up and crashed over the line. Jones converted. Heal then narrowed the gap with a straightforward penalty to end the scoring at 6-19.
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The rest of the half was stalemate with Bridgwater again failing to capitalise when visiting player-coach, Alec Chase, was yellow-carded for a culmination of team offences.
The game had been littered with errors by both sides and was not a good advertisement for this level of league rugby. For Bridgwater, Rob Allen and Ollie Dunn, as ever, gave their all for the cause, but with little reward. Hornets never got on the right side of the referee, conceding a massive nineteen penalties, but Bridgwater could not capitalise on this largesse. Bridgwater, on the other hand only conceded seven, with two more free kicks. However, Hornets deserved their victory but I suspect they will need to up their game to cement their promotion bid.
Next week, Bridgwater journey up the M5 to Thornbury to meet a side one place and seven points higher in the table and also with two matches in hand. Bridgwater have never lost a league match to Thornbury and will be hoping to maintain that record next week before hosting relegation-threatened Wadebridge Camels in the final home game of the season on April 5th
Bridgwater & Albion
Pens: Heal (2)
Tries : Cornish, Jones, Parker
Cons: Jones (2)
Nick Francis, Bryan Webb, Rob Allen, Garryn Basson, James Brakes, Stu Heal, Roger Drabble, Lovejoy Chawatama, Matt Hastie, James Bryant, Ali Blundell. Dan Kemmish (Capt), Nick Spellissy, Ollie Dunn, Tayler Buller.
Replacements used: Scott Woolford, Joe Stradling. not used: Simon Martin
Referee: Brian Perry (Somerset)