Match Report by David Pomeroy
This friendly was Bridgwater & Albion’s first match of the season and gave the coaches a good opportunity to run out existing and new players.
Given the recent heat wave and sunny conditions, the weather was not particularly kind today, being overcast with a strong wind and heavy showers at times. The pitch however was in remarkable condition given that last weekend it played host to the Sommerock Concert on both Friday and Saturday night and was trampled by thousands of visitors. Hats off to the Groundsman and many willing helpers for getting the pitch back to a good playable condition in such a short space of time.
The afternoon’s rugby started with a training session for both sides taking the opportunity to cover some minor changes to the laws for the new season. The match itself would take the form of three 20 minute sessions.
Once the match got underway, Bridgwater started strongly and after just four minutes Frampton Cottrell lost their own scrum and returning forward Joe Bussell playing at No. 8, went over the line for Bridgwater’s first points of the afternoon. In order to keep the game flowing, no kicks for goal were taken today so the score remained at 5-0.
Five minutes later, a loose ball recovered well by Rob Allen led to a run from the half way line by Ollie Dunn where some swift and great handling via Joel Clarke & Nick Francis allowed the ball to return to Dunn for a comfortable try.
Further try scoring opportunities were squandered by the home side, however just six minutes after the last points were scored, Rob Allen intercepted a poor ‘juggled’ pass and scored under the posts for an easy 5 points.
The final points of the first session came immediately after the kick off as Bridgwater returned the kickoff with a clearance kick, whereby the ball was fumbled in mid air and Ash Honeywell, in a move very reminiscent of Allen’s moments earlier caught the ball for an easy score under the posts. Despite some pressure from Frampton Cottrell towards the end of the session, this left the score after the first session at 20-0 to Bridgwater.
As the second 20 minute session started, Bridgwater made a significant number of changes and brought on a lot of their 2nd & 3rd team players. They didn’t seem to gel as a team and this allowed Frampton Cottrell two tries of their own during this 20 minute period of play. Bridgwater gave away far too many silly penalties – something the guys will have to work on before the start of the season. Despite this, Bridgwater’s Scrum Half for the session Jon Hill, did very well with some great interference play of the back of the scrums. A downside however was a knee injury after a heavy tackle in the first minute of the session to Joe Bussell. He was helped off the pitch and would play no further part in the match.
[Not a valid template]
The final 30 minutes of the match again belonged to Bridgwater. The kick off by Frampton Cottrell saw the ball caught by Bridgwater. Some swift handling and a small ruck saw the ball to the half-way line whereby it was passed to Ollie Dunn who out sprinted the opposition to score under the posts for his second of the afternoon.
Prop James Bryant almost scored Bridgwater’s sixth of the afternoon after being passed the ball on the 22. His run just came to an end as he was tap tackled just a couple of yards short of the line. The ball was however recycled and sent across the other side of the pitch via Stu Heal, Nick Francis and Ollie Dunn where it finally wend to Rob Allen who went over to score his second of the day in the far corner.
Bridgwater’s last points of the day went to Matt Hastie who joined a driving maul after a line out 20 yards from the opposition line, and went over with the ball for another 5 points.
This left the final score at Bridgwater 35, Frampton Cottrell 10.
Bridgwater Head Coach, Kevin Innalls was generally pleased with his squads performance. “There was some good play in general and we achieved what we wanted. There are areas we can work on and take into the new season”.
All in all, Bridgwater can be very happy with this result but they will face much stiffer competition when they take on Exmouth in their next pre-season friendly this coming Thursday again at the College Way ground.
Bridgwater Starting XV: Dom Griffin, Joel Clarke, Ash Honeywell, Nick Francis, Ollie Dunn, Joe Bussell, Gary Saunders, James Bryant, Joe Stradling, Robert Thompson, Doug Page-Symmons, Stu Heal, Dan Lang, Rob Allen, Taylor Buller.
Replacements: Matt Hastie, Jason Moulding, Will Kerry, Justin McCarthy, Dave Rae, Ryan Barnett, Tim Stafford, Jon Hill, Dan Steward, Ben Lipscomb, George Sluman