Bridgwater’s team was much-changed from last week. Ashley Honeywell, who has just joined the club, made his debut at centre, Rob Allen, Nick Francis and Matt House returned after injury, Ollie Dunn moved to hooker and Tom King to flanker. Skipper, Dan Kemmish moved up into the second row in the absence of Rob Thompson.
With both sides having been well beaten last week, both were looking for a vast improvement. To be fair, both sides showed great commitment and not a little skill and a game that threatened to escape from Bridgwater developed into a nail-biting contest. Whilst Bridgwater will welcome the losing bonus point, they could have had so much more from the game with a modicum of luck.
In the first half, the home side were dominant on the muddy pitch. Wadebridge had so much of the play that it was fully half an hour before the visitors entered the home 22. During that time, Wadebridge threw the ball about with abandon but could not break a solid Bridgwater defence. The home side had to be content with two penalties from their excellent fly-half, Josh Taylor.
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Bridgwater could have scored in their first attack but a solid driving maul that went from the home 22 to the 5m line eventually came to nothing. Wadebridge broke away and following a period of sustained pressure on the Bridgwater line home skipper, Sam Stone, got the first try on the stroke of half time. Taylor’s conversion gave the Camels a well deserved 13-0 half time lead.
Bridgwater, having introduced all three replacements at the start of the second period pressed early and a delicate chip by replacement hooker Matt Hastie was fumbled by the home defence. At the ensuing scrummage, Wadebridge must have committed a grave misdemeanour as referee, Ben Wiles from Hampshire awarded Bridgwater a penalty try. Will Kerry converted to give the Somerset side their first points of the New Year.
Wadebridge restored their 13 point advantage when, following a break from a 5m scrummage a wild Wadebridge pass luckily fell into the hands of home flanker, Ben Collings who scored at the posts. Taylor converted again.
Bridgwater then lost replacement scrum half, Roger Drabble, to a shoulder injury before Taylor missed his only kick of the day, a 37m penalty attempt. He made amends with an excellent angled conversion a few moments later.
Bridgwater were harshly adjudged offside when a clearing kick had clearly been played by a Wadebridge player and Gary Glyn scored wide out. This galvanised the visitors.
They spurned a kickable penalty, choosing to kick to the corner, and were rewarded with a try by Christian Preece following a quickly-taken free kick. Will Kerry converted.
Wadebridge played the final ten minutes a man short when replacement, Ben Scott was yellow-carded. The visitors took the initiative and despite losing winger Matt House to a recurrence of a shoulder injury – this was his first game back after breaking his collarbone – Nick Francis narrowed the gap with a try converted by Kerry.
Bridgwater tried very hard for what could have been the winning score, but were thwarted by the final whistle in what had become an enthralling duel in the mud. Both teams left the field with their heads held high.
As the game wore on, it was increasingly difficult to tell the teams apart, particularly when play was up to 80m away but the players stuck to their tasks. For Bridgwater, the pack were very solid and, for once, we had a referee who expected the ball to be put in straight at scrums and lineouts. There were, however, problems with scrums that allegedly had wheeled too far. The lineout was lost on a few occasions and turn-over ball in the loose was about even.
The backs tried hard but without looking too dangerous but defended well. There was still too much kicking but possibly because too often, a player was isolated and opted to kick instead of being caught in possession.
It was noticeable that the game was covered by Radio Cornwall. It is a pity we cannot get our local station, Somerset Sound, to show any interest in rugby.
Next week, Bridgwater are at home to Sidmouth in a game kicking off at 3-00pm and will be hoping to build on this performance and get revenge for the defeat suffered at the seaside earlier in the season.
Tries: Stone, B Collings, Glyn
Cons: Taylor (3)
Pens: Taylor (2)
Bridgwater & Albion
Tries: Penalty Try, Preece, Francis
Cons: W. Kerry (3)
Bridgwater Starting XV: Will Kerry, Matt House, Rob Allen, Ashley Honeywell, James Kerry, Dominik Griffin, Nick Francis, James Bryant, Ollie Dunn, Christian Preece, Dan Kemmish (Capt), Matt Northey, Tom King, Mitch Windsor, Nick Spellissy.
Replacements All Used: Matt Hastie, Doug Page-Symonds, Roger Drabble
Referee: Ben Wiles (Hampshire Society)
Match report by Tony Pomeroy