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Thornbury 39, BARFC 32 (29/03/14)

| 29/03/2014 | Reply

Match report by Tony Pomeroy

With two bonus points earned in this game, Bridgwater are now mathematically safe from possible relegation. However, but for their charity in gifting the home side twenty points, a fourth consecutive win against Thornbury would have been achieved.

Bridgwater’s line-up was somewhat experimental, but at this stage of the season that is possibly no bad thing.

Ollie DunnThe home side kicked off with the benefit of the slope and the breeze. Bridgwater made a complete hash of taking the kick-off and were immediately penalised by the referee. Home scrum half, Joe Jackson, had no problems in opening the scoring with a short-range penalty.

Bridgwater were all at sixes and sevens and after five minutes, Jackson doubled the score with a second penalty.
Bridgwater began to exert pressure and Ash Pippard went close to an opening try before Stu Heal kicked a good penalty into the breeze to open their account.

From the kick off, Bridgwater infringed again on their own 10m line. The penalty was quickly taken and home full-back, Ed Sheldon, who was in a class of his own throughout the game, cruised in for a try in the left corner, well converted by Jackson.

Bridgwater began to exert pressure, started by a bullocking run from Bryan Webb straight from the kick off, and were rewarded with a series of penalties in the home 22 that were kicked to touch. Eventually, Bridgwater tried to spin the ball wide but lost possession deep in the Thornbury 22. The ball was hacked downfield and the frantic chase for the line was won by league top try scorer, Sheldon, who got his second try of the match and his nineteenth of the season. Jackson again converted for a 20-6 scoreline.

Bridgwater did not give up. James Brakes went close with a good run up the left touchline before a sweeping move that travelled over 60m was finished off by Tayler Buller with an unconverted try.

As half time approached, Bridgwater continued to press for a second try but once again, when the ball was lost in the home 22, Thornbury took play the length of the field for replacement George Jackson to score an unconverted try and make it 25-11 at the break.

Bridgwater Club Captain, Dan Kemmish joined the fray at half time, having been rested following his short holiday.
The half started with Sheldon making a coruscating 60m run deep into Bridgwater territory. He was finally stopped by a desperate tackle from skipper for the day, Rob Allen. His immediate reward was a yellow card as the tackle was deemed to be high.

The home side kicked to the corner but were denied by a Bridgwater scrummage strike against the head and the danger was cleared. However, the ball only reached that man Sheldon again who ran the ball back at Bridgwater from fully 75m out. He was stopped just short of the line but Rob Higgitt was on hand to score under the posts. Jackson converted.

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Despite being a man short, Bridgwater continued to pressurise the home side but without scoring. Thornbury’s defence was dogged but two opposing wingers, Brakes for Bridgwater and Mike Gaston for Thornbury were both yellow-carded for a bout of fisticuffs.

Then, following a flowing move, replacement, Stuart Adams scored the home side’s fifth try under the posts giving Jackson an easy conversion.

Entering the final quarter of the match at 39-11, Thornbury would have expected an easy passage. However, Bridgwater had not read the script. With home centre, Higgitt, also yellow carded, Bridgwater produced a series of forward drives deep in the home 22. Eventually the ball was released and ace poacher, Matt Hastie dived over in the corner. Heal converted with a magnificent kick.

From the kick-off, the ball reached Allen who ran with his usual power, scattering defenders like confetti. He was eventually stopped but the ball reached Nick Spellissy who scored under the posts to make Heal’s kick an easy one. With twelve minutes to go the home side’s lead was now only 39-25.

Oliver Dunn & James Bryant

Dunny and Roly

As the clock ticked down, Bridgwater continued to exert pressure. With my watch showing over 40 minutes had been played, the referee awarded Bridgwater an attacking 5m scrummage. The strike was clean and the ball was moved to Pippard, on the blind side, and he scored Bridgwater’s bonus point try in the corner. If Heal could convert, Bridgwater would gain a second bonus point for losing by seven or less. The travelling Bridgwater fans held their breath, Heal’s boot made great contact and seconds later the touch judges’ flags were aloft. The final score was 39-32 – not too dissimilar to the 45-33 scoreline at Bridgwater in November.

Bridgwater will take heart from the way they finished this game. If only they had not concede early penalties and then twice lost possession when tries were in the offing the result could have been so different. The lineout performed well and the pack actually took two ‘against the head’ when down a player. The backs ran hard and looked dangerous at times.

The downside of the day was the inability to hold onto the ball in the tackle and the occasional misplaced notion that a 30 yard miss pass is a good idea. Simple things are usually much more effective.

However, if they can take their final quarter display into the final two games of the season, they should end on a high note. Next week they host Wadebridge Camels who are favourites for the third relegation spot before a first league visit to Bideford to end the season.

Tries: Sheldon (2) G Jackson, Higgitt, Adams
Cons: J Jackson (4)
Pens: J Jackson (2)

Bridgwater & Albion
Tries: Buller, Hastie, Spellissy, Pippard
Cons: Heal (3)
Pens: Heal (2)

Bridgwater & Albion Team:
Nick Francis, Garryn Basson, Rob Allen (Capt), Stu Heal, James Brakes, Ash Pippard, Roger Drabble, James Bryant, Matt Hastie, Scott Woolford, Ali Blundell, Tayler Buller, Btyan Webb, Ollie Dunn, Nick Spellissy
Replacements all used: Joe Bussell, Dan Kemmish, Rhys Satchell (debut)

Referee: Dave Bundy (Liverpool Society)

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Category: Previews / Reports -XV

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