Match Report by Tony Pomeroy
This enthralling game thoroughly entertained the crowd at Coleridge Vale but will probably be remembered for all the wrong reasons. For the second away match running, a serious injury to a Bridgwater player, this time Rob Thompson, meant a long delay and an eventual switch to an adjoining pitch when the Colts XV match had finished.
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The game lasted two and a quarter hours! Rob suffered a suspected broken ankle six minutes into the second half. He could not be moved and an ambulance was summoned. Some 30 minutes later a paramedic first responder arrived and it was over an hour after the incident before the ambulance arrived. When the match finished, Rob had still not been moved into the ambulance some 75 minutes after the incident.
Bridgwater brought in Joe Bussell for his first game of the season to replace the injured ‘LJ’ Chawatama at prop, Sam Knights for his debut at scrum half and Nick Francis returned at full back after his injury at Cullompton with Ash Honeywell replacing Allen in the centre. Nick Spellissy also joined the pack with Rob Thompson dropping to the bench.
Bridgwater could not have got off to a better start. Within five minutes the visitors were 14-0 up following excellent tries by Stuart Heal and Ollie Dunn with Heal converting both.
Midway through the half, Clevedon hit back with a try when prop Jack Steadman scored following a good rolling maul. Mike Taylor converted as he did for the second try on half an hour when Mike Lowis put Oscar James in for a very good try.
Bridwater’s injury jinx then took hold. Firstly skipper, Dan Kemmish limped off with an ankle injury to be replaced by Rob Thompson and three minutes later he was followed by centre Matt House with a similar injury allowing Joe Stradling on with Ollie Dunn moving to centre.
Half time at 14-14 gave a time to regroup.
Clevedon took the lead just after the restart with a penalty by Taylor. Rob ‘Dolphin’ Thompson then took off on a trademark charge up field that led to his injury and a long delay. At the restart, Roger Drabble came on at scrum half with Knights moving to full back instead of Francis.
The game restarted with a penalty to Bridgwater kicked by Heal to level the scores and with a second penalty he took Bridgwater into the lead.
The see-saw nature of the game saw Clevedon draw level with a Taylor penalty before home flanker Davies was sin-binned. With Clevedon shorthanded, Heal kicked three more penalties but Clevdon managed a second try for Steadman converted by Taylor to leave the score 27-29 going into the final ten minutes.
When Davies returned to the fray, just about his first act was to intercept a Bridgwater pass deep in his own half. He sprinted away and despite being caught, managed to offload the ball which eventually reached home skipper, Tom Thie who scored the bonus point try wide out. Taylor converted with an excellent kick.
Bridgwater had a couple of penalties close to the home line and eventually a catch and drive was well worked and Joe Stradling scored near the touchline to level the scores. Heal’s conversion was just wide.
With the final kick of the game, Taylor was just short with a wide-angled penalty and despite fumbling the ball as it bounced under the posts, Bridgwater just scrambled a touchdown as the Clevedon hordes descended.
Most people agreed that the draw was a fair result in an excellent game of rugby. Clevedon gained three points and Bridgwater two – their first away points of the season.
It was good to see the injured ‘LJ’ supporting his team and also former player, Christian Preece turned up to support. He is now working in London and has just joined Civil Service RFC playing at level 5.
Bridgwater could have won this game but once again failed to capitalise on a solid lead. When a game plan is obviously working the players should stick to it and grind the opposition down.
Bridgwater will hope for better when they entertain bottom club Coney Hill next week whilst Clevedon make the long trek to Camborne.
Tries: Steadman (2), James, Thie
Cons: Taylor (4)
Pens: Taylor (2)
Tries: Heal, Dunn, Stradling
Cons: Heal (2)
Pens: Heal (5)
Nick Francis, Arg Sariarelis, Ash Honeywell, Matt House, Joel Clark, Stuart Heal, Sam Knights, James Bryant, Matt House, Joe Bussell, Ali Blundell, Dan Kemmish (Capt), Tayler Buller, Ollie Dunn, Nick Spellissy.
Replacements all used: Joe Stradling, Rob Thompson, Roger Drabble
Referee: Andy Miller, Bristol Society