Tribute South West One West
AN injury-hit Bridgwater & Albion had to settle for a losing bonus point as they were narrowly beaten by Cullompton on Saturday, writes Tony Pomeroy.
The visitors outscored Albion by two tries to nil to complete the double over the hosts - as Bridgwater lost a game by five points or less for the fifth time this season.
The pitch was in remarkably good condition given the recent bad weather and it was the visitors first on the scoreboard.
A break by scrum half Tom Frankpitt took Cullompton deep into Bridgwater territory and although he was tackled by Simon Martin, the ball was recycled.
It reached Paul Baker near the left touchline and despite the attentions of more than one defender, he somehow managed not only to cross the line but get the ball down.
The conversion from skipper Adam Pearce shaved the upright.
Bridgwater narrowed the gap after five minutes - Cullompton collapsed a maul on their own 10 metre line and Bridgwater fly half, Stuart Heal, celebrated his 21st Birthday by landing his first penalty of the day.
When Bridgwater attacked, Brian Webb and Ollie Dunn were both prominent but could not generate a score Play ebbed from end to end until, after 20 minutes, Pearce landed a 20 metre penalty when Bridgwater were adjudged to have broken early from a scrum.
Bridgwater continued to search for that elusive try, evening spurning a possible kickable penalty from around 40 metres.
Just before half time, Heal kicked his second penalty to leave the home side trailing 6-8.
Cullompton were not quite done, putting Bridgwater under considerable pressure approaching half time but the home defence held firm.
With Simon Martin leaving the field at half time, Will Kerry moved to full back and Tayler Buller went to inside centre for the home side.
In the first twelve minutes of the half, Heal kicked two more penalties, the second of which was awarded for a high tackle by Frankpitt - which also earned him a yellow card.
Despite being shorthanded, Cullompton took the game to Bridgwater.
They took scrums and lineouts against the put in and the home side were forced to defend desperately.
As the end approached, Cullompton's influential number eight, Chris Griffiths was carried off on a stretcher with a leg injury - and as he headed to the treatment room, Baker was put free and again scored in the corner.
Pearce's conversion once more shaved the wrong side of the posts but the visitors had done enough for the narrowest of wins.
# BRIDGWATER travel to Cleve next Saturday (January 11).
Scorers: Bridgwater & Albion Pens:- Heal (4)
Cullompton Tries:- Baker (2) Pen:- Pearce
Bridgwater Starting Team Simon Martin, Ashley Pippard, Rob Allen, Will Kerry, Jon Hill, Stu Heal, Sam Knights, James Bryant, Ollie Dunn, Joe Bussell, Matt Northey, Doug Page-Symonds, Dan Kemmish (Capt), Brian Webb, Tayler Buller
Replacements used: Matt Hastie, Lovejoy Chawatama Not used: Scott Walford
Referee: Paul Box (Somerset Society)