This local derby played on a sticky College Way pitch saw Morganians triumphantly even up the score this season, avenging their home defeat against the Dirtrackers in October in some considerable style.
Albion made three changes from the side defeated at Minehead the previous week with Page restored at scrum-half, J Sturdy returning from the wilderness and Norman taking his place in the middle of the front row. Morganians meanwhile have been inspired by their first victory of the season against Wyvern on the previous Saturday.
Both sides took advantage of crass errors from their opponents in the opening minutes. First in the second minute two poor clearances from Albion inside their 22 allowed Morganians to gain the initiative and attack and their stand-off waltzed over for a try at the posts which was duly converted. Two minutes later Morganians suffered a defensive lapse and Page – following up his own kick and Bertonshaw pounced on the loose ball for the latter to score to reduce the arrears. In the 8th minute a good burst by Sturdy in mid-field set up Albion’s forwards and Norman typically powered over to give Albion the lead. Frost’s conversion attempt was ruled out as he had taken too long over his preparation.
Albion were now buzzing and after 17 minutes Norman had a further try disallowed when the referee deemed that the supporting Hicks had got in front of him and obstructed the remains of the Morganians’ defence. Albion were now capitalising upon Morganians’ ponderous last line of defence and nearly scored again as three Albion men descended upon the visitors’ full-back following Page’s clever kick into space, but Morganians just rescued the position.
Morganians have put together a good blend of size and shapes and perhaps more importantly a good combination of experience and youthfulness. In the 24th minute Morganians now having recovered from being under pressure, attacked down the left side. They were awarded a penalty, kicked the ball to touch – were rewarded with another penalty from which Roy Grimstead crashed over to reduce the arrears. For Albion, Gibson was leading the charges with some aplomb and the remainder of the play for the half was even. Just on half time Albion were awarded a penalty and Frost – this time well within the time limit – kicked the goal to give Albion a narrow 13-12 lead just as Grimstead was yellow-carded for the visitors.
Albion nearly conceded a further score at the start of the second half as they dithered on their own line from the kick-off, immediately yielding the initiative. A neat reverse pass by Morganians’ scrum-half almost sent his half-back partner over. In the 43rd minute Albion were penalised and Morganians’ scrum almost pushed over but Albion managed to scramble the ball away. Eventually excellent work by Sturdy in mid-field and excellent tackling by Gibson prevented a further visitors’ score.
After 52 minutes, Morganians got their push over tactics right and scored at the posts to take a 19-13 lead. Albion’s poor kicking did not help their cause, as Morganians gratefully ran the ball back with some aplomb. When the visitors kicked on to Albion’s goal line, the home defence was forced to concede the minor and again Morganians almost pushed over. However from the next scrum, they did so – their skilful No. 6 picked up and delightfully passed to the wing who dived over. Albion compounded this reverse by failing to kick 10 metres from the kick-off and then conceding a penalty from a late tackle. Albion were now trying to wrest the game and attacked in isolated bursts but with no real cohesion.
Morganians gathered the ball and their powerful pack looked after it. In what everybody thought was the last minute of the game, then Morganians’ pack once again pushed Albion back over their own line with Roy Grimstead being rewarded with his second try which was duly converted. The referee was clearly enjoying himself as play then ran on for at least 15 minutes beyond the normal time but to no avail as neither side could add to their scores.
In the end a convincing win for the visitors whose power pack and able outsides were superior on the day. Amazingly this was Morganians’ second victory of the season. For the neutral onlooker, that would have been a surprise. Expect them to improve their form over the remainder of the season. Albion just need to regroup and produce some more consistency. There were some good moments from several players but not enough together to cause the opposition any real problems.
Next week the Dirtrackers take a break but return to action at Somerton on 2 March.
Team: Walford; Bertonshaw Tidball J Sturdy Richards; Coates Page; Hicks Frost Barnett Miller Williams Ruddle Norman Gibson. Replacements – Used – Lloyd Taylor. Unused – Berry Pearce.
Scorers: Tries – Bertonshaw Norman. Penalty – Frost.