Tribute South West One
A SECOND half fight back wasn't enough to prevent Bridgwater & Albion going down 39-32 at Thornbury, writes Tony Pomeroy.
The home side kicked off with the benefit of the slope and the breeze - and 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 before Heal replied for Albion.
From the kick off, Bridgwater infringed again on their own 10 metre 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 score line.
James Brakes went close for Albion with a good run up the left touchline before a sweeping 60 metre move was finished off by Tayler Buller with an unconverted try.
Thornbury added another score before the break - and minutes into the second half, Rob Allen was sin-binned for a high tackle on Sheldon.
Rob Higgitt then touched down for Thornbury's fourth try following a 75 metre break from the ever impressive Sheldon, before a bout of fisticuffs saw players from either side sent to the sin bin.
Thornbury's fifth try looked to have put the game to bed, but Bridgwater were not giving up and Matt Hastie dived over in the corner to give his side a sniff.
From the kick-off, Allen powered his way through and the ball eventually 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.
As the clock ticked down, Bridgwater continued to exert pressure and Pippard found space on the blindside to seal a try bonus point for the visitors - Heal's conversion secured the losing bonus point to double Albion's tally and ensure they will be playing in South West One again next season.
Thornbury 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)