Old Redcliffians continued where they left off against North Petherton last week with this six try demolition of Bridgwater & Albion.
Bridgwater gave a debut to Barbadian International prop, Christian Preece and brought back Rob Allen after a long injury break. Apart from Doug Page-Symonds starting in the second row, the rest of the team started against Thornbury last week and were hoping for a similar display.
Playing down the slope, Bridgwater started brightly but when Old Reds got into Bridgwater territory, they opened the scoring with two penalties from Jack Steer.
Bridgwater’s Preece was making life difficult for his opposite number causing the home scrum to be disrupted. During the first twelve minutes, Bridgwater were frequently penalised by Buckinghamshire exchange referee, Mike Hudson and when Bridgwater hooker, Matt Hastie, was yellow carded after only 15 minutes home skipper, Sean Fox got the opening try, converted by Steer.
Bridgwater continued to try and play rugby, despite being one short, and Rob Allen made one good break.
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Almost as soon as he returned, Hastie was awarded a very fortuitous try. A penalty was kicked to the corner and the inevitable driving maul crossed the line. The try was awarded despite many people in the ground seeing the ball had crossed the dead-ball line before being grounded. Will Kerry, kicking in place of the unavailable Matt House, went very close with the wide-angled conversion attempt.
Shortly before half time, Fox got his second try, easily converted by Steer, and was then himself sent to the sin bin.
Bridgwater had a lively finish to the half but could not narrow the 20-5 deficit. The half time penalty count was 10-4 in favour of the home side.
The second half continued in much the same vein. Bridgwater would have a passage of good play but not score and the Old Reds would take their turn but manage to score.
The lead was increased mid way through the half with a try for Ollie Coles, inevitably converted by Steer before replacement prop, Jamie Roberts, who had entered the fray when Lewis Wilson was injured after 11 mins, became the second home player in the bin. With no other props available, uncontested scrums were called whilst Roberts was off the field.
Nick Spellissy thought he had scored for Bridgwater but the referee very harshly ruled a double movement – even the Old Reds players thought the try was good! This disappointment was almost too much for Bridgwater who then wilted under a determined Old Reds assault.
In the final quarter, Old Reds ran in three more tries by Jed Hooper, Ollie Coles, again, and Dan Fry with Steer converting one to seal a very convincing win and see Old Reds climb to third place in the table.
Replacement changes were fast and furious in the final ten minutes. Play flowed from end to end as Bridgwater attacked, lost the ball so could not score, then saw Old Reds go on the attack and score almost every time. Such streetwise finishing emphasised the gulf between the sides on the day.
Many Bridgwater players will be unhappy with their performances. However, apart from a try gifted by the referee little went right for the Albion. They lost the penalty count 17-8 overall as they could not come to terms with the idiosyncratic way the referee wanted the game played. Scrummages were very solid until the end of the game when a lost scrum resulted very swiftly in the final try and linesout were very secure throughout.
Too many tackles were missed and these resulted in Old Reds exerting a lot of pressure on the Bridgwater defenders.
Next week’s match is at home to Chard and because of Bridgwater Carnival shifting to Saturday, this game will be played on Friday November 2nd with a 7-30 pm kick off.
Tries: Fox (2), Coles (2), Hooper, Fry
Cons: Steer (4) Pens: Steer (2)
Bridgwater & Albion
Bridgwater & Albion Starting Team: Andy Hambleton, Garryn Basson, Rob Allen, Will Kerry, Nick Francis, Dominik Griffin, Roger Drabble, James Bryant, Matt Hastie, Chris Preece, Rob Thompson, Doug Page-Symonds, Nick Spellissy, Ollie Dunn, Dan Kemmish (Capt)
Replacements all used: Gavin Knight, Sam Russell, Ed Driver
Referee: Mike Hudson (Buckinghamshire Society)
Match report by Tony Pomeroy