Bridgwater’s second string took the short journey to Beggars Brook to play North Petherton’s second team in what was to be the second derby between the two clubs in as many weeks. In the clash of the first teams it was Petherton who claimed victory, edging Bridgwater 9-5.
The second team, much changed from the previous week looked to make amends for the club. Garryn Basson was called up to the firsts and was replaced by Newman whilst Jay Owens was unavailable with a severe case of man flu. James Brakes moved from his usual wing spot to play at 13 with Ryan Barnett recalled to the second team to fill the gap out wide. With Olly McGeown called up to the first team, Jon Hill (Jnr) dropped down to play at scrum half. James Collins earned his first start for the second team at fly half. In the pack, Gary Saunders featured for the second team for the first time this season replacing Dave Norman who was also playing for the first team. With Ollie Steward failing his mother’s pitch side fitness test at Beggars Brook, Ben Lipscomb started on the flank with Matt Ranson at number 8. Tom Male and coach/player Simon Ranson filled the bench.
Bridgwater started the far superior team and were on the scoreboard within the first minute courtesy of a James Collins run which was finished nicely by James Brakes under the posts. John Hill (Snr) added the easy extras and Bridgwater were 0-7 up. The second try followed suit shortly after. After a solid scrum, an area Bridgwater were on top of for most of the game, the Bridgy backs busted up the middle of the park. The ball was recycled back the way it came. Gary Saunders carried strongly and, with some deft handling from the big man, he switched with George Sluman who managed to scramble his way over the line after a fend and tap tackle. The wide conversion attempt was missed giving Bridgwater a lead of 0-12.
Petherton got a try of their own after some battering forward phases. They hammered Bridgwater time and time again around the rucks gradually making their way towards the line. When the backs were released 5 meters out they were held just short but it was in vain as a few more forward phases later and Petherton’s 8 crashed over near the posts. The kick was slotted taking the score to 7-12. Bridgwater got their third try after Tom Lewis rode a tackle and offloaded from the floor to Jon Hill (Jnr). He had a lot of work to do 50 metres out and raced down the touchline with the Petherton defence in hot pursuit. He managed to dot down in the corner. The wide conversion was again missed meaning Bridgwater were ahead 7-17.
Bridgwater seemed to switch off and Petherton were looking dangerous feeding off Bridgwater’s ill-discipline. Josh Sturdy received a harsh yellow card that meant he was in the bin for the end of the first half. After conceding a penalty at ruck time, the Petherton scrum half tapped it quick and deliberately tripped himself up on Sturdy’s feet as he was getting up. The resulting dive could rival Tom Daley’s efforts in the pool. Ben Lipscomb was substituted for Gavin Knight so that Bridgwater could scrummage with a hooker.
Bridgwater started the second half back up to full strength. Lipscomb and Sturdy returned to play back row and hooker respectively but Knight remained on the field and moved to prop replacing Saunders. A 5 metre attacking scrum to Bridgwater resulted in them forcing their way over the line. The ball squirmed out of the side of the scrum and Knight reacted fastest, slipping his bind to pounce on the loose ball and secure the 4-try bonus point with much of the game still to play. John Hill (Snr) was successful with the conversion attempt, 7-24 in favour of Bridgwater.
The restart went straight into touch and from the resulting scrum Petherton’s fly half broke straight up the middle and batted away a number of attempted tackles to surge over the line in the corner. The conversion was missed, 12-24. The score seemed to revitalise the Petherton team and they came back strong looking to turn the game in the favour. Feeding off of further ill-discipline they forced their way deep into the Bridgwater half. Another penalty gifted the home side a kick to the corner and a 5m line out. The inevitable catch and drive was performed and moments later Petherton were awarded a try in a tangle of players over the line. The kick was again missed cutting Bridgwater’s lead to 17-24.
Tom Male had replaced Dan Lang on the wing to earn his first appearance for the second team. Bridgwater’s ill-discipline then started to come back and bite them with a vengeance. First Collins was sent to the bin for persistently being offside and he was shortly followed by Brakes whom was carded for his part in killing the ball and preventing another Petherton try in the corner. Bridgwater had their backs to the wall with 13 men left on the field. The remaining players defended admirably and were let off the hook once with a missed penalty kick from Petherton. Time and time again they repelled the home sides attacks camped in their own 22. During this time the pack held their own scrummaging with a man short as Matt Ranson had moved to the centre to help fill the void left by the dismissals.
Collins was a sight for sore eyes for the weary Bridgwater team and shortly after they were back up to a full 15 with the return of Brakes. Bridgwater survived the 13 man escapade without conceding a point and the reinforcements made an immediate impact. With almost his first carry since returning to the field Collins burst up the middle of the field gaining a good 50 metres. His long pass out to Lipscomb was unsuccessful but was gathered from the floor by Barnett. A few phases later saw the backs given a run at broken opposition and Male spun out of a tackle to score near the posts for a debut try. The conversion was slotted again by Hill (Snr) meaning Bridgwater were 2 scores ahead 17-31.
From the restart the backs looked dangerous again gaining huge chunks of territory with every attack. Some great phase building play sucked in the home defence and some swift handling saw Hill (Snr) cut a line and score under the posts. He converted his own try taking his tally for the day to 13 points and increasing Bridgwater’s lead to 17-38. Bridgwater held on for the remaining minutes and Hill (Jnr) nailed the ball into touch to end the game.
A good day at the office for the second team taking the maximum 5 points and denying Petherton any spoils of war. Bridgwater will be more than happy with their attacking display after crossing the whitewash 6 times. Defensively they were also sound but the poor discipline that has started to creep into their game over the last few weeks is worrying. They made a mountain out of a mole hill after receiving three yellow cards and will be looking to sharpen this up next week at home to Chard.
Team: J. Hill (Snr), Lang, Brakes, Newman, Barnett, Collins, J. Hill (Jnr); Saunders, Sturdy, Woolford, Page-Symonds, Lewis, Lipscomb, Sluman (Capt), M. Ranson
Reps: (Used) Knight, Male, (Unused) S. Ranson
Tries: Brakes, Sluman, J.Hill (Jnr), Knight, Male, J. Hill (Snr)
Conversions: J.Hill (Snr) (4)