Bridgwater will be very satisfied with the five point haul from this match. However, they made hard work of the victory, with coach, Kevin Innalls metaphorically tearing his hair out as the visitors went to sleep a little during the second half.
Bridgwater brought James Brakes back on the wing as Nick Francis was concussed last week and Roger Drabble returned at scrum half as did Joe Bussell at tight head prop. Adrian Tew dropped to the bench joining George Sluman and debutant Alex Newman.
The opening exchanges were very tight as neither side seemed prepared to run the ball. When Clevedon did move the ball from a scrum in midfield, an excellent flowing move saw right wing Oscar James cross for the opening try in the corner. A superb conversion across the stiff breeze from Mike Taylor made the score 7-0 after only four minutes.
Following a period of Bridgwater pressure, the visitors were rewarded for scorning a very kickable penalty. They kicked to touch, patiently recycled the line-out ball and eventually Jervis Manupenu spotted a gap and ghosted over under the posts, giving Stu Heal an easy conversion.
Bridgwater began to dominate the game and Manupenu was again involved when they took a lead they would not relinquish. With Bridgwater recycling the ball well, the fly half released Garryn Basson who crashed over under the posts giving Heal another easy conversion.
Just before half time, Taylor reduced Bridgwater’s lead with a 39m penalty and make the half time score 10-14.
Bridgwater exerted pressure straight from the kick off after the interval and following a series of rucks only metres from the home line, Roger Drabble slipped over under the posts for a typical scrum half try. Heal again converted.
The Bridgwater pack were now dominant. They had a 30m drive from a lineout that looked very impressive, but Clevedon just held out. Then there was a series of scrums around the Clevedon 5m line from which Bridgwater should have scored, but did not.
Clevedon must have sensed that this could be something of a turning point and started to exert pressure of their own. Much of their good work came when veteran Tom Thie moved to fly half as he then controlled the game. One of his 50m touch finders put Bridgwater on the back foot. Midway through the half, a good Clevedon move failed when James dropped a possible scoring pass with the line seemingly open before him.
A few minutes later, Clevedon gained their reward. A loose chip ahead by Bridgwater was gathered by Taylor who carved through the visitors defence before handing on to Thie who scored an unconverted try in the corner. Taylor also missed a much easier penalty and Bridgwater began to realise that the game was still theirs.
Bridgwater began to exert pressure of their own and following a line-out on the Clevedon 10m line put together a good handling move that resulted in a bonus point try for Nick Spellissy. Heal converted with a good kick.
Bridgwater then introduced their latest debutant as Alex Newman replaced Basson in the centre.
The game ended with the home side again on the attack but Bridgwater held out to record their second away victory of the season.
Clevedon more than played their part in an entertaining game and were perhaps unlucky not to get a losing bonus point.
With this victory, Bridgwater have climbed to fifth in the table with 20 points. However, with a blank day next Saturday – due to Bridgwater Carnival – they will undoubtedly slip down as there are four other teams on 19 points. They will have a chance to climb back up again when they entertain Cullompton in the only game scheduled to be played the following week.
In this game, Bridgwater were guilty of not doing the basics for eighty minutes as they often tried to overcomplicate things with fancy off-loads. When such moves come off they look wonderful but when they do not succeed then problems ensue as the opposition are presented with the ball.
The pack looked solid, with parity in the scrums and linesout and the running with ball in hand was good. Defence was generally solid with some good tackling.
Having played five away matches and only three at home so far, Bridgwater are happy with four wins and four defeats and are also averaging one bonus point per game and they will deserve their week off.
Tries: James, Thie
Bridgwater & Albion
Tries: Manupenu, Basson, Drabble, Spellissy
Cons: Heal (4)
James Martin, James Brakes, Garryn Basson (rep Alex Newman 74), Stuart Heal, Oscar Tregenna, Jervis Manupenu, Roger Drabble, James Bryant, Matt Hastie, Joe Bussell, Ali Blundell, Dan kemmish, Tayler Buller, Ollie Dunn (Capt), Nick Spellissy.
Reps not used : Adrian Tew, George Sluman
Referee: Gary Malpas (East Midlands Ref Soc)
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