Heavy thundery rain in the hour before the kick off may have kept many spectators away but the 682 who attended witnessed a typical local derby with no quarter given or asked.
Bridgwater will be regretting their missed chances that cost them victory and bragging rights over their near neighbours. Bridgwater’s kicking boots had been left behind but for North Petherton, Harry Roberts was, as ever, in deadly form with the boot, taking all his chances with aplomb.
Bridgwater, playing down the slope, started strongly and exerted early pressure on the home line but without the reward of points. Bridgwater were unfortunate to lose their stand-out centre, Rob Allen, after only four minutes when he received a totally accidental facial injury in a tackle. He was replaced by Jon Hill.
In the first quarter of an hour both sides thought they had scored tries only for the referee to call them back each time for an alleged marginally forward pass.
Bridgwater opened the scoring when they spurned a possible 3 point penalty and opted to kick to touch. They exerted forward pressure following the line-out and Nick Spellissy drove over for the unconverted try.
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Bridgwater skipper, Ollie Dunn, who had an immense game throughout, was pole-axed in a tackle but recovered after treatment.
When Bridgwater were adjudged offside at a line-out, Harry Roberts slotted over an angled penalty from 30m to narrow the score to 3-5. His second penalty five minutes later gave the home side a lead they would not relinquish.
Both sides had their chances to score – Stu Heal’s penalty attempt from 40m out sailed just wide of the posts and on the stroke of half time, James Martin had a chance to clear his lines but his kick was charged down. Luckily for the visitors, North Petherton could not manage to ground the ball cleanly leaving the half time score 6-5.
With Mitch Windsor on the field for Bridgwater instead of Ali Blundell, the visiting pack were lighter but probably more mobile. Bridgwater started the half well but North Petherton hit back. Bridgwater cleared direct to touch from inside their 22 putting themselves under pressure. North Petherton drove towards the posts and in quick succession, Bridgwater were penalised, Matt Hastie was yellow carded and Harry Roberts kicked a simple penalty. 9-5 to the home side.
Bridgwater hit back with a good move involving Roger Drabble and Dunn and were rewarded with a penalty some 20m out. Unfortunately, Jervis Manupenu’s effort was pulled wide of the near post. Blundell replaced Windsor to add bulk to the seven man pack and Bridgwater tried had to get points on the board.
When fully restored to full strength, Bridgwater had most of the final quarter but could not score even with the home side reduced to fourteen men following a yellow card. North Petherton counterattacked when possible and Drabble and Hastie were prominent in defence.
The home players were very pleased to hear the final whistle to keep them in second place in the table. Bridgwater remain in sixth place with just a losing bonus point to show for their efforts.
Bridgwater’s normal forward power was not always in evidence in this game. North Petherton managed to disrupt a number of lineouts and the scrummages seemed something of a lottery with players popping out or going to ground. Throughout the game there were too many handling errors.
Next week Bridgwater entertain Cleve in a game kicking off at 3-00 pm.
Penalties: Harry Roberts (3)
Bridgwater & Albion
Try: Nick Spellissy
James Martin, Nick Francis, Rob Allen (rep John Hill 4), Stu Heal, Oscar Tregenna, Jervis Manupenu, Roger Drabble, James Bryant, Matt Hastie, Joe Bussell, Ali Blundell (rep Mitch Windsor h/t – 53 and 71), Dan kemmish, Tayler Buller, Ollie Dunn, Nick Spellissy
Replacement not used : Adrian Tew
Referee: Ian Cumming (Hertfordshire)