MATCH REPORT BY TONY POMEROY:
Bridgwater were hoping to gain points to offset their recent five point deduction for playing an unregistered player in early November. However, with a somewhat lacklustre performance at Hornets, it was not to be.
Bridgwater were missing Ali Blundell and Tayler Buller from the pack, bringing in Matt Northey and Ollie Steward but welcomed back wing Joel Clark from International ‘Sevens’ duty with the Cayman Islands.
Hornets put Bridgwater under early pressure and when Bridgwater offended at a tackle, home wing Germaine Jones slotted an easy penalty to give his side a 3-0 lead.
Bridgwater continued to get on the wrong side of London referee, Matt Shales, and were under pressure until Rob Allen made a searing break that gained Bridgwater some 60m. Hornets came back and second row, Phil Hogarth, dropped the ball with the Bridgwater line at his mercy.
Jones missed an easy penalty for the home side when Allen was adjudged to have committed a high tackle.
The home side increased their lead when some poor tackling let Hogarth charge through for a try under the posts converted by Jones. A couple of minutes later a powerful Hornets forward drive saw former Bridgwater player Alec Chase touch down an unconverted try.
Hornets were rampant at this time and Bridgwater apparently had little answer. They should have scored again but the final pass to centre Jack Gadd was adjudged to be forward.
As half time approached, Bridgwater gave a glimpse of their skills. Ollie Steward picked up from the base of a scrum on his own 10m line, broke the gain line and handed on to Sam Knights. It then reached Ollie Dunn, via Joel Clark, whose driving run was stopped just short. Bridgwater recycled the ball quickly and moved it to the left where they totally outnumbered the home defence. Allen was the player to score the unconverted try as Heal missed a fairly routine conversion to leave the half time score 15-5.
Bridgwater used all their replacements at half time. LJ Chawatama replaced Joe Bussell with James Bryant moving to tight head, Doug Page-Symonds slotted into the second row instead of Matt Northey and Brian Webb came into the back row to replace Ollie Steward allowing Nick Spellissy to move to No8.
‘LJ’ was immediately into the action. He snaffled a loose ball in midfield and drove over the gain line before releasing Allen. He was still some 40m out with at least half a dozen defenders between him and the line but he does like a challenge. He tore through the defence like a knife through butter, scoring near the posts to give Heal an easy conversion.
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Bridgwater sensed that they now were in the ascendancy and were unlucky when a possible scoring move was, rightly, halted by the referee with a Hornets player apparently seriously injured on the floor. Player safety is always paramount. From the resulting scrummage, Hornets were penalised and Heal levelled the scores with an easy penalty.
Midway through the half, Hornets came back into the game and should have scored but instead they managed to butcher a clear overlap. Play returned to the home end and Heal missed a very kickable penalty following a scrum offence.
Hornets went back to the other end with a very good move and were rewarded with a penalty by Jones for an offence that also saw Bridgwater centre Will Kerry sent to the bin.
When Bridgwater were again offside, Hornets kicked to touch close to the Bridgwater line. Their line out was clean and Chase was again driven over for his second try. An off the ball incident then sparked an unseemly brawl which resulted in home hooker and skipper, Sean Kent and Bridgwater’s Sam Knights both being yellow-carded. Jones’ conversion from the touchline was superb and increased the lead to 25-15.
In the final minutes, Bridgwater had a chance to narrow the lead and gain a bonus point but an attempted penalty to the corner sailed into touch in goal and the chance disappeared.
Hornets deserved their win as they dominated territory during the game. Bridgwater generally defended well. Bridgwater unusually lost a couple of lines-out and one scrum but the pack stuck to their task well despite giving away weight to the home side. The backs ran well and looked good with the ball in hand but again we saw kicking from hand that was below par.
Next week, Bridgwater host Thornbury who are currently flying up the table following recent wins. Having completed the double over the Gloucestershire side last season, Bridgwater will be hoping for another home win. Bridgwater, with visits to Wadebridge Camels and Camborne to come, have no home fixtures in December so this will be the last chance this year to watch them play at home. Kick off will be at 3-00 pm.
Tries: Chase (2), Howarth
Cons: Jones (2)
Pens: Jones (3)
Bridgwater & Albion
Tries: Allen (2)
Ash Honeywell, Joel Clark, Rob Allen, Will Kerry, Nick Francis, Stu Heal, Sam Knights, James Bryant, Matt Hastie, Joe Bussell, Matt Northey, Dan Kemmish (C), Nick Spellissy, Ollie Dunn, Ollie Steward.
Reps all used: LJ Chawatama, Doug Page-Symonds, Brian Webb
Referee: Matt Shales (London Society)