Match Report by George Sluman
After picking up 5-point wins in their last two games, Bridgwater’s second team headed to the warm southern climates of Wellington. They played their counterparts who were looking for an elusive first victory of the season in what was the only senior game played by Bridgwater this weekend.
Gavin Knight replaced Vice-captain Josh Sturdy whom was treated to a slight rest but still featured on the bench for Bridgwater. The second team welcomed back the trio of Adrian Tew, Captain George Sluman and Alex Newman who all travelled on the bench with the first team last week. Scott Woolford was rested, Bryan Webb was incapacitated with a broken hand and John Hill (Snr) was unavailable as he was too busy to play rugby. He chose instead to have a round of golf or go bowling, a decision which was weather dependent and one that I had no interest in following up. Tom Male earned his first start at full back to replace John ‘Tiger’ Hill. James Kerry was called up last minute due to the unavailability of Mitch Windsor, who is rumoured to have been spotted on the green arm in arm with Hill.
Bridgwater started strongly in their typical fashion and were first on the scoreboard courtesy of a Ryan Barnett try. The backs linked well with Male coming into the attacking line, rounding his opposite man and drawing in the winger to deliver a neat offload to Barnett who cantered in to score in the corner. Jon Hill (Jnr) added wide extras and Bridgwater led 0-7, a lead that they would not relinquish.
Bridgwater earned the second of their 6-try haul in a classic forward style. The line-out ball was secured by the towering Dougie Page-Symonds who set up the maul and gave the ball to his supporting men. He managed to get his hands back on the magic egg once the maul had been brought to ground and powered his way over the line. The extras were missed meaning Bridgwater’s lead was only increased to 0-12.
Shortly after, Jay Owens’ day at the office was harshly cut short after a nasty looking spear tackle from the Wellington scrum half. He was sent to the sin bin for his actions and had the punishment of watching on as his team struggled to contain Bridgwater. Dan Lang moved to outside centre to cover the departing Owens with Kerry coming off the bench for what was to be a successful afternoon for the flying winger. Bridgwater made use of the numerical advantage and with what I believe was his first touch, Kerry dotted down in the corner after some very unselfish distribution from Lang. The extras were missed taking Bridgwater’s lead to 0-17.
Once the sin bin time expired and Wellington returned to fifteen men, they threatened the Bridgwater line. Some desperate defending and a naughty little clearance kick from number 8 Joe Stradling on his own line briefly kept the home side at bay. They did however, eventually, win a penalty and elected to get some points on the board with a successful attempt at the posts to slightly reduce the deficit to 3-17.
Bridgwater managed to seal the four try bonus point just before half time whistle. Another well worked line out resulted in Stradling safely escorting the ball over the line, protected well within the maul. James Collings added the conversion extending Bridgwater’s lead to 3-24. There was time enough to restart the game but only for one play before the referee indicated the end of an eventful first half.
Wellington opened the second half strongly and with some fire in their bellies. They hammered the Bridgwater line for the best part of fifteen minutes. Bridgwater defended stubbornly, refusing to roll over and give up the lead they had worked hard to build. However, the Wellington side were equally as stubborn and managed to cross the whitewash after forwards and backs linked well from an attacking scrum. The conversion attempt was successful taking the score to 10-24.
Fresh legs arrived in the form of Sturdy and Ben Lipscomb who replaced Knight and Tom Lewis respectively. Kerry earned his second of the afternoon after some strong running at broken defence. He barged and wriggled his way free to score out wide from which the conversion was missed 10-29 in favour of Bridgwater. Kerry then finished a fine afternoon’s effort by scoring his hat trick and Bridgwater’s sixth try. Slick handling by the backs saw the ball reach Newman. He managed to offload the ball in the tackle to Kerry who simply ran around his opposite man to dive over the line in the final points scoring action of the game.
After today’s results, Bridgwater have leap frogged Cheddar Valley into third place after they lost to league leaders Hornets. They have a well-earned week off next week before hosting Midsomer Norton II team on 15th November. Norton have had a rocky start to the season but seem to be turning things around and will offer stern opposition for the ambitious Bridgwater side.
Team: Male, Lang, Owens, Newman, Barnett, Collings, J. Hill (Jnr); Norman, Knight, Tew, Page-Symonds, Lewis, Ranson, Sluman (Capt), Stradling
Reps: (All Used) Sturdy, Lipscomb, Kerry
Tries: Barnett, Page-Symonds, Kerry (3), Stradling
Conversions: J.Hill (Jnr), Collings