Match report by Tony Pomeroy
This match was a great advertisement for level 6 rugby. Both teams and the referee contributed to a game that kept the crowd on its toes until the final whistle. Yes, there were errors as both sides mishandled and missed first time tackles but this all added to the excitement of the game.
Bridgwater brought in Jon Hill at scrum half and welcomed back Rob Allen in the centre following his broken nose. Ali Blundell and Nick Francis returned on the bench.
Wells, playing down the appreciable slope, had the edge in the opening exchanges with fly half, Aaron Cook, ruling the roost whether by judicious kicking or running well with the ball in hand. He opened the scoring with a short range penalty after 6 minutes when Bridgwater offended at a tackle. Two minutes later, after one of his breaks had put Wells on the offensive, he repeated the dose when Bridgwater collapsed a rolling maul.
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Wells continued to have the better of the game and after eighteen minutes, Cook again broke through to send his half-back partner, Ben Knight, in under the posts. Cook’s conversion made it 13-0.
However, this lead only lasted seconds. Bridgwater full-back, James Martin, chased the kick-off, managed to gather the ball cleanly and burst through the home defence for a superb individual try under the posts. He has tried this three times this season and it now brought it’s reward. Stu Heal converted easily.
Bridgwater came more into the game and Rob Allen was prominent with the ball in hand. On the half hour, Cook missed a 32m penalty chance.
Bridgwater replaced Bryan Webb with Ali Blundell allowing Tayler Buller to join the back row. Bridgwater had chances to reduce the deficit with one excellent move petering out when a possible scoring pass failed to go to hand.
The score remained at 13-7 for the rest of the half.
Bridgwater exerted pressure straight from the kick off and after only one minute registered their second try. A driving maul took play deep into Wells territory. When Blundell was stopped just short, evergreen Matt Hastie was on hand to pick up the ball and fall over the line. Heal’s conversion from the touchline was just wide.
Jervis Manupenu began to show his class with a number of telling breaks but the visitors could not manage a score. The home side increased their lead with an excellent 40m penalty by Cook, awarded when Bridgwater entered a ruck at the side.
For Bridgwater, Nick Spellissy was tireless and put in a number of telling breaks. From one of these, the ball eventually reached Oscar Tregenna and he scythed through the home defence to score under the posts and give Heal an easy conversion. Bridgwater held a narrow 16-19 lead entering the final quarter and it was still anybody’s game.
Wells pressed hard and were awarded a penalty some 25m out almost in front of the posts. The crowd expected the scores to be levelled but Cook pushed his kick wide of the posts and Bridgwater breathed again.
Inside the final ten minutes, when Wells were penalised at a ruck, Heal teed up the ball just inside the Wells half and 12m from the right hand touch line. His kick was long and straight and made the score 16-22.
Two minutes later, Heal was at it again with an exquisite chip deep into the Wells 22. A Wells defender fumbled the ball and it bounced into touch. Nick Francis quickly assessed the situation and took a very quick throw in to Rob Allen. He burst through the home defence for the bonus point try under the posts. Heal’s conversion made it 16-29.
With the referee playing an advantage, Heal then missed a 50m dropped goal attempt before falling short with a penalty from the same spot.
In the final minute, Wells made a valiant attempt to gain a losing bonus point but their final assault was repulsed by good defence. When the ball was eventually lost forward it heralded the final whistle of an enthralling game.
Wells possibly edged the scrummage battle but Bridgwater won the line-out tussle with a number of steals against the throw. Both teams ran well with the ball in hand with referee Roger Gilson playing his part giving the teams scope and time to play.
Bridgwater will be encouraged with this win that takes them up to sixth in the table with 12 points. Bridgwater have scored 24 tries in the five league matches so far and now have four consecutive ‘four try’ bonus points. This will put them in good heart for the local derby at North Petherton next Saturday (kick off 3-00pm) when a very large crowd will be expected. Come early to get a good spot.
Pens: Cook (2)
Bridgwater & Albion
Tries: Martin, Hastie, Tregenna, Allen
Cons: Heal (3)
Bridgwater & Albion Team
James Martin, James Brakes (rep Nick Francis h/t), Rob Allen, Stu Heal, Oscar Tregenna, Jervis Manupenu, Jonathon Hill, James Bryant, Matt Hastie, Joe Bussell, Tayler Buller, Dan Kemmish, Bryan Webb (rep Ali Blundell 31), Ollie Dunn (Capt), Nick Spellissy
Rep not used: Scott Woolford
Referee: Roger Gilson (Somerset Society)