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Coney Hill 5, Bridgwater & Albion 9

BRIDGWATER & Albion head coach Kevin Innalls praised his side’s gritty efforts as they secured a 9-5 victory over Coney Hill on Saturday, writes Tony Pomeroy.

Fly-half Stuart Heal scored all of Albion’s points from the boot, courtesy of two penalties and a well-taken drop goal – and Innalls was pleased to come away with a win from a game played in horrendous weather conditions.

He said: “It was a funny old day, we started the game in pretty sedate weather conditions, but the storm hit at half-time and we ended up playing the second half into a howling gale.

“But it was one of those days where you’ve just get to get in and get the job done and come away with the four points. I thought we defended really well in the second half against the wind and I can’t fault the lad’s efforts – we battled hard.

“We probably could have scored a few tries to be honest, but a few decisions went against us. But as I said, our defence was great and everyone put in a string performance.”

Bridgwater attacked from the kick off and with penalty advantage being played, Stuart Heal opened the scoring with a dropped goal just after a Bridgwater player failed to ground the ball for a try.

Bridgwater seemed in control and it was no surprise when Heal landed a very kickable penalty to double the visitor's lead.

Midway through the half, with the rain intensifying, a rare Coney Hill attack saw prop James crash over in the corner. The conversion attempt by A Wheller was wide.

Bridgwater managed to butcher a good scoring chance with poor handling, before Heal kicked a very simple penalty for a 5-9 lead which remained through the storm until half time.

The wind veered in the second half and was fully behind the home side, now playing with the elements.

Wheller was well wide with a very ambitious 45 metre penalty as Bridgwater defended solidly in the face of Coney Hill attacks.

The visitors were not helped by injuries which forced Tayler Buller and James Brakes off the field and they were later joined by replacement Roger Drabble.

Bridgwater were left with flankers at centre and wing and Rob Allen bravely stayed on the field despite a pronounced limp.

Towards the end, as the weather relented, Bridgwater came back into the game and were unlucky not to score on a couple of occasions.

When the final whistle blew, the Bridgwater players celebrated the narrow win, dedicated to Friday's Birthday Boy - coach Simon Martin - whose wife presented him with a son with whom he can now share his birthday.

Bridgwater now have two consecutive home matches - next week they entertain Clevedon in a game postponed a couple of weeks ago.

With the North Somerset side's match being called off this week, also, Bridgwater have overtaken them in the league but have played one game more.

They have also leap-frogged Cullompton to rise to eighth in the league and also have a game in hand on their Devon rivals.

Bridgwater Team Jon Hill, Garryn Basson, Rob Allen, Tayler Buller, James Brakes, Stuart Heal, Sam Knights, James Bryant, Matt Hastie, Joe Bussell, Ali Blundell, Dan Kemmish (Capt), Brian Webb, Ollie Dunn, Nick Spellissy.

Reps all used: Scott Woolford, Doug Page-Symonds, Roger Drabble.

Referee: Chris Goss (Bucks)

## NEXT Friday, January 31, Bridgwater will play host to Championship side, London Welsh.

They are stopping at College Way for a brief training session and lunch before continuing on to Cornwall to play Cornish Pirates.

They will arrive at about noon and have a 40 minute run out before lunching and continuing their journey at 2pm.