Report by George Sluman
For those who can’t be bothered to read this short novel of Saturday’s game between Bridgwater and Albion second team and their counterparts from Midsomer Norton, the shortened report is…
VENI, VIDI, VICI
The translation, for those who aren’t fluent in the Latin language or familiar with the exchange of literature between Julius Caesar and the Roman Senate in 46 BC, is ‘We Came, We Saw, We Conquered’.
And now for those who would like to read more about the 16-try haul witnessed at College Way, I present to you the non-fictional story of the…
MIDSOMER MURDERS (Trunks, 2014)
Bridgwater’s second string were treated to a weekend of rest last week and were eager to get their season going again. After three 5-point victories in their last three fixtures, the Bridgwater side were confident heading in to this fixture. A new back three consisted of John Hill (Snr), back from his golfing escapade, at fullback with debutant Drew Shaw and James ‘Forrest’ Brakes taking up position on either wing. In the pack, the only changes from the Wellington fixture were a pair of fresh props in the form of Alan Trunks and Scott Woolford. The bench consisted of Jason Moulding, Dan Lang and Robert ‘Dolphinboy’ Thompson looking for his first competitive game after recovering from an injury that has kept him out of the game for over 12 months.
The game was delayed due to many of the Norton players getting stuck in carnival traffic near the Glastonbury area. Bad news swiftly followed, with Norton only able to bring two front row players to the game, the result being uncontested scrums. Bridgwater opened their account for the afternoon in the swiftest possible way. Although they took kick off, they regained the ball almost immediately in the contact area and some quick hands along the three quarter line saw Newman with a bit space. He carved his way through two Norton defenders and ran in the first of what was to be 16 tries, all of this within the first minute. The conversion from Hill (Snr) was missed, an outcome that plagued the kicker throughout the game (conversion rate 0/1).
On the 7 minute mark Hill (Snr) fed Forrest who made some considerable ground up the right wing. He drew the final man in and popped the ball over a chasing defenders head back to Hill (Snr) who cut a line towards the post to score. He converted his own try extending Bridgwater’s lead to 12-0 (conversion rate ½).
Minute 18 saw Woolford score his first ever senior try. After some tight forward phases which sucked in a number of Norton defenders, the ball was recycled, again to the right. When the ball reached Woolford he decided he was close enough to back himself over the line. He wasn’t wrong and soon secured the third try. The conversion was missed meaning the score stayed at 17-0 (conversion rate 1/3). Owens suffered an impact injury to his elbow and was replaced by Lang. The fourth try was scored in a similar fashion to the third but with Forrest being the man to escort the ball over the line. The wide conversion was again missed, 22-0 in favour of Bridgwater (conversion rate ¼). The significant four-try bonus point secured after just 22 minutes.
Debutant Drew Shaw was next on the score sheet and, at the 29 minute mark, scored the first of his brace after taking a crash ball off the base of the ruck on the try line. He was impressive throughout with strong powerful running which saw him produce a man of the match performance. This time Hill (Snr) was successful with his conversion attempt, 29-0 (conversion rate 2/5). Dolphinboy was given his first appearance of the season and started powerfully, trundling up the pitch a number of times with defenders bouncing and hanging off him. Woolford also earned himself a brace to add to the accolade of his first senior try through a powerful pick and go from the base of the ruck. He crashed over the line just outside the post to allow Hill (Snr)to convert the 6th Bridgwater try at 37 minutes, 36-0 (conversion rate 3/6).
Bridgwater set about trying to earn one more try before the stroke of half time. Their efforts were rewarded with not one but two tries in the last 3 minutes of the half. Shaw completed his brace after a neat switch with Hill (Snr) but only managed to score wide in the left corner. The conversion was taken quickly in attempt to restart the game one more time in the first half resulting in an unconverted try, 41-0 (conversion rate 3/7). With a minute left on the clock Norton kicked off again. This time they managed to win their own kick. They attacked the fringes of the ruck, driving on towards Bridgwater’s 22-metre line. Bridgwater managed to repel the attack and win the ball back. They kept it in play and Lang finished some good team play by dotting down in the right corner. The try was again unconverted meaning Bridgwater led at half time 46-0 (conversion rate 3/8).
After half time Lang scored again out wide after some more solid forward phases sucked in the Norton defenders. The conversion…. Missed (conversion rate 3/9) 51-0. After some strong driving lineouts, the pack earned Bridgwater a penalty 5 metres out. Page-Symonds located and acquired the ball, took a quick tap penalty and pummelled his over the line under the posts. The conversion attempt was successful taking Bridgwater’s lead to 58-0 (conversion rate 4/10).
Fly-half Collings was next on the score sheet, scoring two tries in between the 53rd and 56th minutes. The first of these was unconverted where he bulldozed his way over the line, brushing aside a number of attempted tackles. The second was a fine individual effort after a huge dummy pass sent the defence drifting, he side-stepped his way through the gap and ran in a full 22 metres to score near the posts. This time his try was converted. Albion led 70-0 (conversion rate 5/12). One minute later, Bridgwater had scored again, this time through Stradling. It was the result of some great offloading and support play which saw the ball transfer between five or six players before Stradling dived under the posts. Hill (Snr) converted, 77-0 (conversion rate 6/13).
Page-Symonds and Woolford replaced Lewis and Trunks respectively whom returned to the field for the remainder of the game. Newman scored his brace during the 68th minute after some quick hands from a ruck 5-metres out. The ball was sent wide and he forced his way over the line in to give Hill yet another conversion attempt from the side line. His effort was unsuccessful taking his conversion rate to 6/14 and the score to 82-0. Hill (Snr) made up for one or two of his missed kicks by earning his own brace. 20 metres from the Norton line Ranson ran a switch line with him. Hill dummied the switch pass and the defenders all followed Ranson leaving a gaping hole for Hill to canter through and dive under the posts. During the dive he was shot by an unseen sniper and went down with a minor cramp injury. Trunks teed the ball up but before he could take the kick Hill made a miraculous recovery to slot his final conversion of the day (rate 7/15) taking Bridgwater’s running total to 89-0 and his own personal haul to 24 points.
The final try of the game was scored by scrum half Hill (Jnr) who sniped around a ruck on the 22 metre line. He rounded the opposition winger and outpaced him to the try line to cross the line. The unsuccessful conversion ended the game and Bridgwater finished the game 94-0 (conversion rate 7/16). A side note at this point is to add that the score could have been up to 112-0 but alas, Hill left his kicking boots at home, and with them, Bridgwater’s chance of scoring triple figures this game.
Although very one-sided, credit must go to the visiting team, who travelled with a very young side and a bare 15. The attitude they showed was a real credit to themselves and their club. They never gave up despite the score line and demonstrated the true spirit of the sport. Thanks also to the referee who managed the game fairly throughout. Bridgwater travel to Bristol Barbarians next week in what should be an exciting encounter as 3rd and 4th place in the league go head to head. Bridgwater currently sit 6 points clear of Bristol but 6 points behind Chew Valley, a lead which could be reduced next weekend with Chew facing Hornets in a battle between 1st and 2nd in the league.
I would like to thank Messrs Berry, Hill (Snr) and Trunks for their contributions to this report. Club President Mike Berry ran the touchline and, rather fortunately for me, recorded the scores. I can therefore guarantee the order and scorers of the tries are factually correct. John Hill (Snr) helped with memory recollection of some of the tries as there were far too many for one man alone to remember. Finally, Alan Trunks was the creator of the title and deserves full credit for his contribution.
Team: J.Hill (Snr), Brakes, Owens, Newman, Shaw, Collings, J.Hill (Jnr); Trunks, Knight, Woolford, Page-Symonds, Lewis, Ranson, Sluman (Capt), Stradling
Reps: (All Used) Moulding, Thompson, Lang
Tries: Newman (2), Hill (Snr) (2), Woolford (2), Shaw (2), Lang (2), Collings (2), Brakes, Page-Symonds, Stradling, Hill (Jnr)
Conversions: J.Hill (Snr) (7)