BRIDGWATER’S FIRST AWAY WIN OF THE SEASON!
Wadebridge Camels 8 – BARFC 20
Bridgwater can thank their back row for their first away victory of the season. Tayler Buller, Ollie Dunn and Nick Spellissy were both prominent in attack and resolute in defense and their work set the tone for the afternoon, writes Tony Pomeroy
With Matt Hastie held up in traffic, a very late change brought Gary Saunders in to prop with LJ Chawatama moving to hooker. Bridgwater also gave starts to Roger Drabble and Doug Page-Symonds. Player/coach, Simon Martin, made a rare ‘bench’ appearance.
The Cornish ‘mizzle’ thankfully stopped just before the game allowing Bridgwater’s supporters – who outnumbered the home followers – to have a dry afternoon.
The first half provided eminently forgettable. Wadebridge had much of the possession but elected to pick and drive all the time and were inevitably repulsed by a resolute Bridgwater defence. The only scoring chances in the first half hour fell to Bridgwater. A charge-down by Stu Heal put Bridgwater on the attack but it came to naught and then a fly-hack at a loose ball by Nick Francis also created a chance.
One superb scrummage by Bridgwater drove the home side some 15m back and when the home pack disintegrated in chaos, the referee ordered a reset at the original spot. Almost every other referee in the country would have penalised the home side!
A great move then followed between Drabble, Francis and Spellissy taking play almost half the length of the field but as Francis was put clear to score, the referee adjudged the final pass to be forward.
In the final minutes of the half, Heal became a Jeckyl and Hyde figure. First, he landed a snap dropped goal to give Bridgwater the lead and then had a kick charged down. Wadebridge poured through and Heal compounded his error by going offside at the resulting ruck to allow replacement Jamie Taylor to land an easy equalising penalty to leave the half time score 3-3.
The second half was much livelier. Home centre, Mark Kempthorne made a searing break to gain his side 50m but Bridgwater regained the ball. They progressed into the home half and when they moved the ball left, replacement, Simon Martin, evaded the home defence to cross for the first try in the corner. Heal converted with a magnificent kick to regain the lead at 3-10.
Heal was also involved in the second try. He put a very high kick into the home half, Matt Hastie harassed home full back Will Pengelley, who dropped the ball. Nick Spellissy, following up fast, picked it up and charged 25m to the line for a great score. Heal converted easily and at 3-17, the travelling fans began to breathe easier.
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In the final quarter, Bridgwater should perhaps have scored again from a great break by Drabble. However, his pass was delayed too long and the chance was lost. Bridgwater had to be content with a second dropped goal from Heal that just scraped over the bar.
In the final minutes, Wadebridge turned on their best rugby of the game. They were denied one try by a forward pass and approaching injury time, managed a try from No 8 Mark Grubb as the forward pressure eventually told.
Deep into injury time, Bridgwater thought they had scored again when Rob Allen crossed in the corner. However, the referee seemed unsighted and did not award the try. It mattered not in the final scheme of things as the final whistle saw Bridgwater comfortable winners by 8-20.
Bridgwater will be very happy with this result, Conditions were not conducive to open rugby and all players stuck to their task well. Until the final minutes they defended stoutly and just failed to keep their line intact. The pack played well and achieved parity in set pieces. and the backs looked lively.
Despite the four points gained, Bridgwater have dropped one place in the table – to eighth – as the five point deduction for playing an unregistered player has now taken effect. They now have 29 points at the midpoint of the season. They have played better than this position as they have lost by five points or less on four occasions this season. They could have been challenging for a promotion spot at this time and will be looking to do even better in the second half of the season, beginning with another trip to Cornwall – to Camborne – next Saturday.
Pen: Jamie Taylor
Bridgwater & Albion
Tries: Martin, Spellissy
Cons: Heal (2)
Dropped Goals: Heal (2)
Jon Hill (rep Simon Martin h/t), Joel Clark, Rob Allen, Will Kerry (rep Jon Hill 79), Nick Francis, Stu Heal, Roger Drabble, Gary Saunders ( rep Matt Hastie 19), Lovejoy Chawatama, James Bryant (rep Gary Saunders h/t), Dan Kemmish (Capt), Doug Page-Symonds (rep Matt Northey 54), Nick Spellissy, Ollie Dunn, Tayler Buller (rep Doug Page-Symonds 73)
Referee : Kevin Williams (Cornwall Referees Society)