South West 1 West
Bridgwater & Albion 27, Okehampton 24

BRIDGWATER & Albion returned to winning ways to ensure that they will be playing at this level next season, but they left it until final throes of the game before doing so, writes Richard Walsh.

Before the game, the Friends of Bridgwater & Albion Rugby Club held a lunch for more than 200 guests that helped to swell the crowd for the final home league fixture of the season.

The hosts were straight into the attack from the kick-off, and skipper Ollie Dunn made a strong run before offloading for Ryan Barnett to score on the left after just two minutes.

Okehampton responded almost immediately, with a try of their own three minutes later, as Richie Friend went over and then converted to give his side the lead.

Dunn was prominent in several attacking moves that came to nothing, but after 20 minutes Albion were awarded a scrum five metres out on the left, from where the ball found Barnett in space on the right to score his second try, which Jon Hill converted to put the hosts back ahead.

But the visitors once again came straight back onto the attack, and on 25 minutes George Trerise scored a try to the right of the posts, which Friend converted.

The Devon side kept up the pressure, and shortly before the break Trerise scored his second try to make it 19-12 to the visitors at half time.

Okehampton got the second half off to a turbo-charged start and within five minutes Friend extended their lead with an unconverted try.

Bridgwater were now 12 points behind, but they were far from done for and soon on the attack again, with Arron Kelly forcing his way over to score a try.

The arrears were reduced further when Hill slotted home a penalty to bring the hosts to within four points.

Will Monro produced a scything run from deep in his own half that was stopped just short of the try-line, but try as they might Albion seemed unable to score.

As the minutes ticked away, the tension mounted and the hosts were camped inside the Okehampton five metre line.

They continued to pile on the pressure, being awarded a number of penalties close to the line and seeing Okehampton have two players carded.

Eventually the pressure was rewarded, as Lewis Phillips fought his way through to score the decisive try, which Hill converted, and straight afterwards the referee blew for full time.

Bridgwater & Albion squad: Matthew Ranson, Samuel Adcock, Craig Blyde, Ethan Trebble-Westlake, Arron Kelly, George Sluman, Jon Roberts, Brad Talbot, Jon Hill, Tom Fournier, Ryan Barnett, Oliver Dunn (c), Rob Gurnett, Garryn Basson, Will Monro, Lewis Phillips, Bryan Webb, Taylor Buller.


GEOFF Sluman, Bridgwater & Albion director of rugby, was a happy man after watching the side beat Okehampton on Saturday.

He said: “This was a good team performance and a thoroughly deserved victory over a strong Okehampton side.

“Before kick-off we deliberately put pressure on ourselves to deliver a good performance.

"That is slightly alien, as often we try to take pressure off to allow the guys to play freely, but we talked honestly about what we needed.

"If you deliver a good performance then the result often looks after itself. The guys delivered a great performance.

“This group of players have my respect; there is fantastic camaraderie and they should take confidence from the performance and result, and take it up another level next week.

"Our discipline was much improved this week but I will still be expecting more from the players in that area next week. 

“The guys didn’t panic under pressure or during setbacks; they just dug in and worked harder."

Next Saturday sees 11th-placed Albion finish their season away to Teignmouth, who are in eighth spot, just one point ahead.