South West 1 West
Bridgwater & Albion 5, Cleve 3
BRIDGWATER'S almost total domination of territory and possession was not reflected in the scoreline, writes Tony Pomeroy.
Despite all the recent rain, the pitch was in reasonable condition and stood up very well for the whole 80 minutes.
Bridgwater brought in Sam Russell at No 6 with skipper, Dan Kemmish, moving to No 8. Ollie Dunn moved from flanker to replace the injured Rob Allen in the centre. Mitch Windsor came in for his first outing of the season at open side flanker.
Early exchanges were fairly equitable until, when Bridgwater lost possession in midfield, Cleve mounted their first attack. Bridgwater infringed and visiting full-back, Ollie Phillips, opened the scoring with a 22m penalty.
Home centre, Will Kerry was wide with an ambitious 42m penalty into the wind and rain.
Both sides were guilty of too much aimless kicking and three times in as many minutes, Bridgwater kicked direct to touch from out side their 22.
Much of the play was in the visiting half as Bridgwater exerted pressure but could not convert it into points. Looking for the elusive try, Bridgwater scorned a kickable penalty but the Cleve defence held out.
After 27 minutes, Bridgwater lost winger, Matt House, with a collarbone injury. His replacement was flanker, Tom King, who was making his debut - albeit out of position.
Almost immediately, as the penalty count against Cleve mounted rapidly, the visitors had second row, Brad Horman yellow-carded.
Bridgwater could not make the extra man count and the half time score remained at 0-3, when Phillips was wide with a second penalty attempt as the half ended.
Just before half time, Cleve had replaced injured flanker, Liam McMahon with Matt Starr and at half time brought on Tom MccDonough for Dan Cox at loose head prop.
The second half was played almost constantly around the Cleve 22 illustrating the way Bridgwater have played for much of the season. Bridgwater attacked incessantly and Cleve defended very well.
Ironically, One of Bridgwater's better chances to score came following a rare Cleve incursion in to home territory. A long kick out of defence by Dominik Griffin was chased down by King who caught Phillips in possession close to his own line. Bridgwater stole the ball and, in looking for that scoring pass, promptly lost it again.
Bridgwater brought on Matt Northey for Doug Page-Symonds and Rob Prescott for James Bryant in the hope that fresh legs would bring about that elusive score.
Inside the last five minutes, just as it was beginning to look like Cleve holding out for an unlikely win, King received the ball near the left touchline and some 30m out. His powerful run took him through a couple of attempted tackles and to the delight of the small but vocal crowd he scored a debut try in the corner. Stuart Heal's conversion attempt was wide.
Cleve had a chance to snatch the match in the dying minutes but an ambitious 40m dropped goal attempt by Phillips was wide.
Bridgwater move above Oldfield OB in the table but have no game this weekend..
Team: Stuart Heal, Garryn Basson, Ollie Dunn, Will Kerry, Matt House (rep Tom King 27), Dominik Griffin, Roger Drabble, James Bryant (rep Rob Prescott 63), Matt Hastie, Christian Preece, Doug Page-Symonds (rep Matt Northey 56), Sam Russell, Mitch Windsor, Dan Kemmish (Capt)