Bridgwater slipped to their third defeat of the season to second placed Chew Valley 2nd XV. There was one change in the backs from the previous week with Drew Shaw replacing James Kerry and two changes in the pack with Gavin Knight replacing Josh Sturdy, whom was promoted to the first XV, and Sam Russell starting in place of Mitch Windsor. Windsor remained in the match day squad on the bench and was joined by old heads; Dave Norman and Matt Ranson.
Bridgwater played into the stiff breeze during the first half and started the game much stronger than in the previous few weeks and stole a number of early line outs but, unfortunately, couldn’t continue this for the duration of the game. Chew opted to kick an early penalty at the posts after some strong defending kept their attacks at bay. The kick was spooned leaving the game scoreless. Chew used the elements wisely and exerted great pressure on Bridgwater for most of the first half. They scored their first try under the posts on about 10 minutes after some weak tackling. The simple conversion was successful and another try, again due to weak tackling, was scored out wide. The more ambitious conversion was also scored extending Chews lead to 0-14.
After the dodgy tackling spell Bridgwater did improve slightly and successfully saw out the remainder of the half without conceding again. They went close to scoring their own try but, uncharacteristically, lost the attacking lineout on the five metre line. Half time saw some changes with Norman replacing Saunders and Russell, who had picked up an ankle injury in the first half, making way for Ranson. With the wind now at their backs Bridgwater again started the half strongly. James Collings and John Hill both played their part in using the wind to pin Chew back into their own half. After 50mins George Sluman made way for Windsor after copying the example set by fellow back-rower Russell and picking up an ankle injury.
Joe Stradling took the captains’ reigns and after some great build up play drew in the winger and passed, basketball-esque, to Hill who did himself no favours by dotting down in the corner. Fortunately, he packed his kicking boots and nailed the touchline effort to reduce the deficit to 7-14. He was next on the score sheet and knocked a routine penalty over the posts to further reduce the deficit to 10-14. The comeback seemed on until Bridgwater slipped in defence, going off the boil in the tackle area for the middle 20 minutes of the half again.
Chews ten and twelve partnership was instrumental for the visiting side carving through the Bridgwater defence like a hot knife through butter. The poor defensive show cost Bridgwater another converted try halting their comeback and taking the score to 10-21. A successful penalty attempt for Chew extended their lead to 10-24. Chew put the game to bed and earned themselves a bonus point by scoring a fourth converted try after yet more poor tackling against a strong running 12, 10-31. Despite this, it was Bridgwater who had the final score of the match. They seemed to get a second wind with five minutes remaining and some great counter attacking play between Shaw, Hill and Lang saw the latter cross the whitewash. Hill converted the try to take his personal haul to 12 points and the final score 17-31.
Having played far below their potential for the last three weeks, this seemed to be a loss that was inevitable in coming. Bridgwater’s second string remain in 3rd place for the Christmas break having won 11/14 games so far, acquiring 52 points. They will be disappointed to fall to 9 points behind today’s opponents. This was also the first game this season where they failed to earn a single league point, with bonus point losses against league leaders Hornets and Castle Cary. The team will need to take this Christmas break as an opportunity to rest and recover from this season’s current battle wounds before kicking off the second half of the season on January 3rd away to Yatton.
Team: Hill, Brakes, Lang, Owens, Shaw, Collings, McGeown; Saunders, Knight, Woolford, Page-Symonds, Lewis, Stradling, Sluman (Capt), Russell
Reps: (All Used) Norman, Widnsor, Ranson
Tries: Hill, Lang
Conversions: Hill (2)