A cool but sunny day in Cornwall and nothing realistically hanging on the result should have given us a free-flowing, open game. What we got was a game littered with errors from every participant. Camborne deserved the win if only for the fact that they took some of their chances but Bridgwater probably had the majority of the territorial possession. Their nemesis was their inability to turn possession into points as they spend long periods hammering away at the home line with nothing to show for it.
Bridgwater gave a chance to Tom Denovan at full back and Jonathan Hill at scrum half and they acquitted themselves well in their step up to this level. Bridgwater were led onto the field by Rob Allen, playing his 100th game for the 1st XV.
Inside the first three minutes, Bridgwater conceded two kickable penalties but David Mankee hooked both chances wide and then made a clean break that almost gave the home side a try. Bridgwater were struggling with the normally so reliable lineout misfiring badly and also with one or two poor clearing kicks.
After 14 minutes, a good move saw Denovan tackled just short of the home line. He stretched out and was within inches of scoring but it was turning out to be that sort of day.
Bridgwater kept up the pressure but then when they unaccountably lost the ball in the home 22, Camborne tore away and were only halted by some desperate defence five metres from the visitors’ try line.
Camborne then spurned an easy three points in a ploy to get the opening try. They were thwarted when Matt Hastie stole the ball to start a Bridgwater move that travelled 65 metres. Bridgwater exerted some pressure until a break out of defence by home winger Alex Ducker, game them brief respite. Camborne were then penalised but Chris Ashwin was narrowly wide with a 45m penalty attempt.
The opening score came after 33 minutes. Bridgwater picked up the ball at the back of a scrum deep in their own 22 in an attempt to run out of defence. However, they lost the ball and two short passes later, debutant home centre, Keiran Westlake crashed over under the posts. Mankee converted easily . The half time whistle blew shortly afterwards – at least 90 secs early according to my stopwatch – with Bridgwater again on the attack and expecting a penalty for collapsing a maul and not the half time whistle.
For almost the whole of the third quarter, Bridgwater were camped within ten metres of the home line. The pressure was set up with a superb miss pass from Ashwin that reached Garryn Basson on the wing near the half way line. His bullocking run took him just short of the home line. Then Hastie set up Allen whose powerful effort was also held up short.
A brief Camborne attack was repulsed at a scrum on the Bridgwater 22 when the visiting pack drove the home eight backwards to the half way line.
Either side of this event, Bridgwater introduced Jordan Brodley and Rob Thompson for James Bryant and Taylor Buller and had three possible ‘tries’ ruled out in quick succession, once for a forward pass and twice the referee ruled no grounding of the ball.
Minutes later another good chance for Bridgwater was lost.
After 26 minutes, an innocuous-looking Camborne move seemed to have been halted in midfield but suddenly the ball reached Ducker who, despite being confronted by defenders, managed to find a path to the line. Mankee converted and almost immediately landed a 45m penalty awarded for a high tackle by Bridgwater.
Basson again came very close with a strong run and the game ended – after only 36min 30 secs on the stop watch – with Bridgwater driving hard at the home line.
Bridgwater did not deserve a 17-0 defeat but must be much more clinical and turn pressure into points.
There was much to admire about the Bridgwater play. They ran powerfully with ball in hand and defended strongly for most of the game. The scrum was strong but the game was littered with handling errors throughout.
Bridgwater were very unhappy with many aspects of the game and will be looking to bounce back next week. With St Austell, who are already relegated, visiting in the final game of the season, Bridgwater must achieve a bonus point victory to be sure of keeping third place in the league as they could be overtaken by Bideford if the unthinkable happens and they fail to win the game. The game will kick off at 3-00 pm.
Tries: Westlake, Ducker
Con: D Mankee (2)
Pen: D Mankee
Tom Denovan, Garryn Basson, Rob Allen, Stu Heal, Arg Saliarelis, Chris Ashwin, Jonathan Hill, James Bryant (rep Jordan Brodley 46), Matt Hastie, Joe Bussell, Ali Blundell, Dan Kemmish, Nick Spellissy, Ollie Dunn (Capt), Taylor Buller (rep Rob Thompson 52).
Replacement not used : Simon Martin
Referee: Kevin Williams (Cornwall Society)
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