On derby day at College Way, Bridgwater’s second string travelled up the M5 to play their counterparts at Hornets. Hornets kindly agreed to an early kick off so the team could get back in time to watch some of the action between Bridgy and Pethy. With Hornets sitting at the top of the table with 16 wins from 16 games and Bridgwater unbeaten on the road this promised to be a close encounter and did not disappoint with 12 tries being exchanged between the two teams.
Jay Owens returned from injury to partner Dan Lang in the centre. James Brakes also returned to the wing from his own injury. Scott Woolford had been called up to the first team so Brett Shaw earned his second team debut by joining Gary Saunders and Gavin Knight in the front row. Coach Ranson turned player/coach for the day and joined brother Matthew and Olly McGeown on the bench.
The game started with a 20 minute stalemate. Bridgwater were far superior in the lineout, stealing the majority of Hornets lineouts as well as winning their own while Hornets had the upper hand in the scrum. Both sets of backs produced dangerous plays and made a number of line breaks but it was Hornets who managed to seize upon one of these chances and convert pressure to points. They converted the try taking a 7-0 lead.
Hornets scored their second try of the day after winning a penalty in the red zone. This time their backs were lively and awake. The quick tap saw the ball looped over the top to the wing where the ball was snuck over the line in the corner. The wide conversion attempt was missed extending Hornets’ lead to 12-0. Shortly after, Jon Hill (Jnr) left the field after picking up a knock. Olly McGeown entered the fray with Bridgwater defending another Hornets attack. The team galvanised and repelled the attack determined not to let Hornets get any further ahead.
On the stroke of half time Bridgwater were finally awarded a well-deserved try of their own. Their lineout dominance allowed them to set up a strong driving maul. Once the maul had stopped the backs were released who crashed up towards the posts. Some more forward phases around the fringe of the ruck saw Bridgwater inch closer and closer to the line. The ball was recycled to the backs and John Hill (Snr) came into the back line and forced his way over for his, and Albion’s first try of the game. He was unable to convert his own try so Hornets’ lead had only been cut to 12-5.
Half time saw Brett Shaw make way for Coach Simon Ranson due to a knock to the head in the build up to Hill’s try. The second half saw an increase in tempo and the two teams seemed to be fairly trading tries. Bridgwater were unable to take the momentum from the end of the first half into the beginning of the second half and Hornet’s started to get the scoreboard ticking over again. A try scored out wide saw the conversion hit the post meaning Hornets regained their 12 point lead 17-5.
Bridgwater utilised their rampaging lineout and set up another driving maul. The ball traded hands several times in the powerful drive with George Sluman being the benefactor of the packs efforts when the ball was grounded on the whitewash of the try line. The conversion was again missed with the deficit being cut to 17-10. Hornets hit back with their fourth try of the afternoon, guaranteeing themselves a bonus point for the days efforts whilst, again, replenishing their 12 point lead 22-10.
It was Bridgwater’s turn to score next and Oscar Tregenna was more than happy to perform his duties. After some great build up play across the park, Tregenna cut inside off his wing taking a neat pass in his stride and headed towards the posts before dotting the ball down. Hill (Snr) repaid the kindness by converting the try and bringing Bridgwater to within a score of the lead 22-17.
Whilst attempting to have their turn in scoring, the Hornets centre went down injured in a heavy tackle. From the sound of the contact it was believed to be a broken leg and play was immediately stopped. After being down for less than five minutes, he made his way to the side line, half carried, half limping to a round of applause from players and supporters alike. After play resumed, Hornets finished the job they had started before the injury and scored with an overlap. The extra man cut in making the conversion attempt easier and his effort paid off with a successful conversion. This re-established their pesky 12-point lead 29-17.
Knight picked up a calf injury and was replaced by the jack-of-all-trades Matthew Ranson. With back row, half back and centre appearances already under his belt this season, Ranson had a run out at hooker. Due to his lack of experience in the department, the scrums had to go uncontested. Next, Hornets didn’t play by the script and scored an unconverted try again, clearly and obviously before Bridgwater had had their turn. This opened out a big lead of 34-17. Jon Hill (Jnr) returned to the field for the remainder of the game replacing Olly McGeown at scrum half.
John Hill (Snr) scored his second and Bridgwater’s fourth of the day by finishing off a brilliant team try. The backs linked to devastating effect in a move that started with Hill (Snr) on the half way line. The ball passed through the hands of Tregenna, Owens, James Brakes, back to Tregenna who passed it back to Hill (Snr) to finish the move by cutting inside the final Hornets defender. Hill (Snr) then converted his own effort to take the score to 34-24.
Hornets’ final score of the game came almost straight from kick off. The deep kick was recovered well and after some forward phases which drew in some of the lingering defenders, they spread the ball wide. The one man overlap was used to good effect and the winger ran in from the half way line giving Hornets a 39-24 advantage.
Bridgwater scored their final try of the game much like they scored their first, in the last play of the half. A great break from the backs and some superb support play saw Dan Lang pick and go around the side of a tackled player and dive over the try line. Hill (Snr) converted as the final act of the game and Bridgwater agonisingly lost out on a losing bonus league point by a single point.
Although disappointed they couldn’t earn the losing bonus point, Bridgwater should be pleased that they went on the road to an undefeated team and participated in a brilliant game of rugby, scoring 31 points in the process and gaining a 4-try bonus point. They will hope to be able to replicate today’s brilliant performance, and build upon the first team’s victory, when they joust against local rivals North Petherton 2s next weekend at College Way. Thanks again to Hornets for the early kick off and to the referee who allowed a brilliant game of rugby to be had between the sides.
Team: Hill (Snr), Tregenna, Lang, Owens, Brakes, Collings, Hill (Jnr); Saunders, Knight, Shaw, Lewis, Page-Symonds, Stradling, Sluman (Capt), Steward
Reps: (All Used) S Ranson, M Ranson, McGeown,
Tries: Hill (Snr) (2), Sluman, Tregenna, Lang
Conversions: Hill (Snr) (3)