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Bideford 25, BARFC 17 (12/04/14)

| 12/04/2014 | Reply

Apr14-09679This game was very much a microcosm of the whole season for Bridgwater.  From the Bridgwater viewpoint it was a real ‘curate’s egg’ – parts of it were excellent!

Bridgwater brought in Sam Knights at scrum half to replace the unavailable Roger Drabble also restoring James Brakes to the wing and Stu Heal, back from the ski slopes, at centre.

Bridgwater had by far the better of the opening stages of the game with all the play in the home half. They had two chances to score but Heal had left his kicking boots at home as he missed a couple of longish chances, on each occasion the stiff crosswind pushing the ball wide of the posts.

On almost their first visit to their own half, a wild Bridgwater pass went into touch. From the lineout, Bideford moved the ball right and a couple of missed tackles later, home centre, James Scott touched down for the opening score. Fly half, Olly Wickett converted for an unlikely home lead.

Bridgwater again attacked and, following a driving maul from a lineout, crossed the home line only for the ball to be held up.  Bridgwater were penalised at the resulting scrum.

When Bridgwater were adjudged to have infringed at a tackle, Wickett increased the home lead with a penalty.

Bridgwater continued to pressurise the home line with Ollie Dunn and Nick Spellissy looking dangerous with ball in hand. The pack were totally dominant in the scrummage pushing the home eight backwards – so much so that when offered penalties close to the line, a scrum option was usually taken. One such scrum was heading remorselessly for the home line when the referee whistled for a second penalty to Bridgwater. This was a decision that baffled everyone – even the home supporters!  At the subsequent scrummage, Bridgwater were surprisingly penalised and the pressure was released.

Apr14-09734Heal was putting in some very good touch-finders for Bridgwater but just before half time he missed a very kickable penalty to leave the visitors trailing 0-10 at the break.

Bridgwater introduced LJ Chawatama at the break, resting Roly Bryant’s blisters!

The home side had a dream start to the half when a simple passing move brought a try for full-back Chris Snell.  Wickett missed the easy conversion.

Bridgwater hit back immediately. Bideford were offside at the kick off and Heal put the ball in touch deep in the home 22. From the subsequent driving maul, Knights fed Brakes who got the first Bridgwater try. The conversion was wide.

Bryan Webb replaced  Ash Pippard, with Ollie Dunn moving into the centre. He immediately made good progress down the right before Heal executed an excellent cross kick. The ball reached Brakes, travelling at speed, but he was unable to hang onto it and another possible try went begging.

However, Bridgwater stayed on the attack and the home side conceded a number of penalties. With the visiting crowd baying for a penalty try at the third offence, the referee eventually awarded the penalty try for the fourth consecutive infringement in ‘the red zone’. Heal duly converted.

On a rare foray into Bridgwater territory, Bideford were awarded a penalty, kicked by Wickett.  At 18-12 with a quarter of the game to play, any result was possible.

Bridgwater continued to play in the opposition half but it was the home side who scored next. Dunn lost possession on the home 22 and winger, James Buckland sprinted 75m for a third Bideford try, converted by Wickett.

Bridgwater still believed they could win. They lost the ball on the home line following a series of forward drives and then home flanker, Alex Priest, was yellow carded.

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Rob Allen, who as ever had taken a lot of stopping with the ball in his possession was then held up over the line.

With the clock ticking away remorselessly, Bridgwater threw everything into attack. Eventually, the pack drove over and Tayler Buller was credited with the try. Trying to get another play, Heal attempted a very quick drop kick conversion that went well wide. However, the kick was the signal for the final whistle and Bridgwater had missed a losing bonus point by the narrowest of margins.

This was  a game that should perhaps have been won. Next season Bridgwater will have to be more clinical in their passing. Far too many attempted passes do not go to hand.  Ball retention in all phases of the game is paramount. The pack, as demonstrated in this game, are very strong and the backs contain some very powerful and exciting runners. The players are very passionate about their game and their club and their commitment cannot be faulted.  They, the coaches and management have worked hard this season and all are already looking forward to next season and the challenges that it will bring.  Hopefully, they will all be challenging for promotion as the eventual difference between that and this season is actually very little.  One more try in each game would have seen the club well up the table.

ScorersApr14-09691
Bideford                
Tries:  Scott, Snell, Buckland
Cons:    Wickett (2)
Pens:    Wickett (2)

Bridgwater & Albion
Tries:     Brakes,  Buller,  Penalty Try
Con:        Heal

Bridgwater Team:
Nick Francis, Garryn Basson,  Rob Allen, Stu Heal,  James Brakes, Ash Pippard, Sam Knights,  James Bryant, Matt Hastie,  Joe Bussell, Ali Blundell,  Dan Kemmish (C), Nick Spellissy,  Ollie Dunn, Tayler Buller

Replacements used: Lovejoy Chawatama,  Bryan Webb,  Unused:  Simon Martin

Referee:  Kelvin Williams, (Cornwall Society)

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Category: 1st XV News, Previews / Reports -XV

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