Bridgwater second team hosted Wellington seconds at College Way after an extended break in the fixture list. Their one week break became two weeks after last weekend’s away trip to Chard was cancelled due to a waterlogged pitch. The second team welcomed back Adrian Tew from the first team as well as handing débuts to Kyran Devitt and Christoforos Sofianidis, a product of Greek rugby. Josh Sturdy was named on the bench after recovering from a broken jaw whilst John Hill (Snr) was playing his last game for Bridgwater for the foreseeable future as he is Australia bound to join up with younger brother Tim with an unknown return date.
It looked as though Bridgwater were going to show no signs of rust after they scored within two minutes of kicking off. After drawing in a number of defenders, the ball was reversed to the blindside where George Sluman and Hill (Snr) produced a moment of trickery with a dummy switch followed by a dummy pass. The pass finally came which released Oscar Tregenna into some space who cantered into the corner to open Bridgwater’s account for the day. Hill (Snr) missed the touchline conversion limiting Bridgwater’s lead to 5-0.
Unfortunately this bright start was not a sign of things to come and Bridgwater started to look like a side that that had had considerably more than a two week break. Bridgwater occasionally produced moments of good play in between bigger chunks of a lacklustre performance. The lineout functioned well but the scrummaging performance was a bit of a roller coaster ride with some being won comfortably and others lost miserably. Handling and tackling across the team was well below par for Bridgwater who have struggled to find the form they had before the Christmas break.
Just before half time Wellington broke down the wing and, in the process of bundling the player into touch, Bridgwater were penalised for deliberately knocking the ball on in the tackle. Wellington kicked to the corner and set up a driving maul which forced its way over the Bridgwater line. Despite throwing bodies into and under the maul, Wellington were able to ground the ball and level the score, 5-5. The conversion attempt was missed.
Half time saw a reshuffle which allowed one debutant to replace another. Matt Ranson vacated a back row spot to allow Sofianidis to replace Devitt. Ranson moved to scrumhalf with Jon Hill (Jnr) moving out to fly half. Bridgwater continued to play in their scrappy manner and paid the price when Wellington scored their second try and took the lead. Another series of driving mauls resulted in them crossing the whitewash in the corner for a second time. The conversion was again missed taking the score to 5-10.
Sluman was replaced by Joe Stradling who played his part in the next try by winning a lineout in the Wellington 22. From the lineout the forwards drove on and, after a few attempts, the gap was found and Tew smashed his way over the line to score in the corner. Hill (Snr) was unable to convert the wide try again so the score was levelled once more, 10-10. Shortly after, and with ten minutes left on the clock, Sturdy replaced Gavin Knight at hooker to earn his comeback from injury. The game continued and it looked as though Bridgwater were to earn their third draw in the second half of the season alone. With time enough for one play, Sluman returned to the fray to replace Sofianidis – who had taken a knock to the head.
Bridgwater had earned themselves a scrum and Olly Steward broke from the back once the drive had stopped to try and cross the whitewash. He was stopped short but the ball was retained and after two more attempts at the line, Bridgwater won a penalty for Wellington diving over the ruck off their feet. Stradling reacted fastest, took the quick penalty and wriggled free to cross the line to clutch victory from the jaws of a draw. Hill (Snr) missed the conversion to grant him a duck in his last game of the season.
Bridgwater will have to improve next week if they are to win on the road against a constantly improving Midsomer Norton side. The only positive from this game was that Bridgwater managed to win despite their poor performance. Safe travels to John Hill (Snr) who has made 17 appearances for the 2nd team this season. In that time he has managed to accumulate 164 points courtesy of 9 tries, 37 conversions and 15 penalties.
Team: Hill (Snr), Tregenna, Johnson, Basson, Lang, Devitt, Hill (Jnr); Tew, Knight, Woolford, Lewis, Page-Symonds, Ranson, Sluman, Steward
Replacements: (All Used) Sturdy, Stradling, Sofianidis
Tries: Tregenna, Tew, Stradling