After the euphoria of winning their opening two matches of the season, Bridgwater came back to reality with a bang when they travelled down the M5 to play Cullompton this afternoon. The large contingent of travelling supporters appeared to outnumber the locals, but they were to leave disappointed.
The home side dominated play all afternoon with Bridgwater never looking settled. Scoring opportunities were regularly spurned as careless handling and poor decision making took their toll on the visiting side.
Cullompton opened the scoring in the 3rd minute with a penalty kick by Ross Toms, however when the opportunity was presented 2 minutes later to Bridgwater, Stu Heal put the ball went wide of the posts. The visitors repeated this miss just minutes later. Toms then increased the home sides lead by again bisecting the posts after another penalty.
The home side looked the stronger side and their determination was rewarded after 23 minutes when Outside Centre, Adam Pearce went over the line for the first try of the afternoon. Toms converted making the score 13-0.
After another successful home penalty, Bridgwater Centre Joel Clark received a yellow card for a spurious offside decision after a kick forward by Heal. This was one of many erratic decisions made by the referee.
Despite being a man down, Bridgwater had their only try scoring opportunity disallowed by the referee as he adjudged it held-up. Players and supporters at that end of the ground disagreed. Bridgwater managed to get on the board with Heal kicking an easy penalty 3 minutes before the end of the half. This allowed the referee just enough time to sin-bin Cullompton Centre, Toms for offside at a ruck before blowing for half-time.
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The second half saw many more Bridgwater handling errors and a further Yellow Card offence for Nick Spellissy. He was adjudged off his feet at a ruck, video evidence however shows that Spellissy had put in the tackle to create the ruck and was trying to get back on his feet. Cullompton’s Pearce scored from the resultant penalty leaving the score at 19-3. Another Pearce penalty a few minutes later moved Cullompton further ahead.
15 minutes into the second half, Bridgwater’s Nick Francis received a suspected neck injury which caused a 10 minute delay in proceedings. Requiring Paramedic attention, the referee decided to relocate the match to the adjacent (albeit slightly smaller) pitch whilst an ambulance was called.
From the scrum restart in the new location, Cullompton put the ball out wide and Toms ran it in for Cullompton’s second try. Brooks again converted.
The final score of the afternoon came again from Cullompton slotted another penalty over the posts making the finishing total 32-3.
Bridgwater were extremely frustrated with their afternoon’s performance with Head Coach Kev Innalls remarking “It was a difficult afternoon with our guys making some crazy decisions”, whilst Assistant Coach, Simon Martin described the sides performance as ‘Not quite there and complacent’.
The Bridgwater side must now turn their attention to next week’s match when they face new league leaders Cleve at home. Cleve are the only side to have won all three matches so far this season so it should make for an interesting game.
Tries: Pearce, Toms
Conversions: Toms (2)
Penalties: Toms (4), Pearce (2)
Bridgwater & Albion:
Bridgwater’s starting XV: James Bryant, Matt Hastie, Lovejoy Chatawama, Ali Blundell, Rob Thompson, Taylor Buller, Nick Spellissy, Dan Kemmish, Roger Drabble, Stu Heal, Joel Clark, Matt House, Garryn Basson, Arg Saliarelis, Nick Francis.
Replacements (all used): Matt Northey, George Sluman & James Brakes
Referee: Kalvin Withers (Berkshire Society)