Once upon a time, on a sunny Saturday afternoon Bridgwater seconds travelled to Wells, looking to complete this fixture at the third attempt. Adverse weather meant that the seconds hadn’t played for nearly a month; however it was soon evident that there were no signs of rustiness or vegetation.
The team welcomed Matt Ranson back into the Bridgwater fold after several seasons playing his rugby in the warmer southern climes of Wellington. As well as his older sibling Simon, who once again donned the Albion colours for an 80 minute cameo, becoming player/coach rather than just the latter.
Albion, captained by George Sluman, played down the slope in the first half and wasted no time in making the advantage count. Following good pressure from the kick, Albion knocked the ball forward. Wells had the put in at the following scrum but were driven off the ball by a powerful Bridgy pack, in what was to become a common feature of the first half. The drive continued over the try line and number 8, Stradling flopped on the ball for the first try of the afternoon. Pippard opened his account for the afternoon with the conversion.
Stout defence and the domination in the scrum allowed Albion to play the half with considerable freedom, as even when the ball was knocked on, possession was regained through the scrum almost every time. It wasn’t long before the second try came through Tim Hill following a deft inside pass from elder brother and fine example, John Hill. Pippard converted again.
Soon after Satchell added the third following a sweet pass from Pippard. The fourth came out wide to the right from Stradling, following good work from the whole team to move the Wells team all over the park. Lang added a further try before the break.
Wells had their only meaningful period of possession just before half time, but they never looked like threatening Albion’s line. It was during this passage of play that Sluman was caught out by the blight of Chedzoy, suffering a dislocated elbow and suspected break. Although after match reports suggest he was milking it, and it was only a dislocation. A sad end to the season for the promising young back rower.
This was a strong first half performance, in which the score could easily have been double but for the final pass going to ground, and a lack of control in other places. Simon Ranson was in tremendous form, making several battering runs, right at the heart of the Wells defence. Satchell nearly bagged his second straight from a restart, but didn’t quite have the legs to finish it, being tackled 2m short, and unable to replicate the Warburton stretch he utilised for his first try.
The second period, started slightly late, while both teams waited for Sluman to be removed from the pitch, however the delay did not alter the manner of the game, with Albion picking up right where they left off, scoring a further nine tries.
Pippard got the first of his two tries, following a change of direction from the back of a scrum, allowing him to scythe through the defence from a good seven metres to finish just left of the posts.
Shortly after Brakes finally remembered how to catch the ball, and promptly scored a hat trick, possibly one of the fastest ever in the history of the world. The pick of his tries coming after beating four or five defenders using nothing but brute force.
Ward finished off probably the try of the game, following great handling involving most of the team. The ball was moved first to the left then back to the right; runners ripping holes in the Wells team almost at will before Ward cut a great line and used his pace to finish just right of the posts.
A similar move from the restart, allowed Stradling to put Matt Ranson away for a try, only for him to be taken out by an unseen sniper, whilst trundling his way up the hill. The ball was quickly recycled though for Sturdy to finish off.
The penultimate try came from Pippard, who flopped on the ball like a lost trout, after the forwards had disrupted a Wells lineout, and hacked the ball over the line.
The final try was scored by Stradling who took a slightly dodgy yet extremely unselfish pass from Sturdy, whilst already over the line.
Pippard finished with an impressive personal haul of 28 points, consisting of two tries and nine conversions.
This was a dominant performance from the young Bridgwater side scoring an impressive 14 tries in all. Next week they travel to North Petherton to play their second string.
Team: Ward, Brakes, Owens, J. Hill, Lang, Pippard, T. Hill, Woolford, Saunders, Trunks, S. Ranson, Satchell, M. Ranson, Sluman (Capt), Stradling.
Reps: (all used) Moulding, Barnett, Sturdy
Tries: Stradling (3), Brakes (3), Pippard (2), Satchell, Lang, Ward, T. Hill, Trunks, Sturdy
Cons: Pippard (9)
*Apologies for any inaccuracies, so many tries were scored it was hard to recount them all; however I think you get the gist of it.