South West One (W)
Matson 20, North Petherton 28

THIS was a titanic battle between two teams who threw everything at each other, playing attacking rugby in awful conditions, writes Simon Freeman.

The importance of the game was evident in the first ten minutes with many crunching tackles knocking players backwards. 

Matson defended well and turned the early pressure around with a superb clearance kick. 

The home team moved the ball across the backs but were met with some resolute tackling from Jack Coles and Carl Jones.

Petherton played their way into the game, mainly through the forwards, but this time all the backs joined in and, after a series of drives, Mac Taylor darted over and in the difficult wind Sam Williams made the conversion look easy.

The exchanges were still physical but, with the pitch making it difficult, both teams showed individual skills and this time it was Matson’s forwards who gained the upper hand to roll over for a well worked try. 

The match stayed between the two 10 yard lines as defences came to the fore, with Dan Morgan, Dominik Griffin and Greg Charlton fully committed to every collision.

Petherton made the first clean break when John Gallagher and Ben Freeman released Henry Gliddon down the flank who turned inside, and the ball bobbled around and landed in the hands of Eryk Lazinski who shot over and under the posts for Williams to convert.

Petherton looked comfortable but Matson had other ideas and only some solid defending by Lewis Allen and Sam Chillingworth prevented another home try. 

Matson kept on the pressure and again showed patience to force their way over to narrow the gap to 14-10.

Petherton, playing down the slope, ideally needed another score before half-time and some lung-busting efforts from Arron Gibbs, Charlton and Morgan made ground before Nic Sestaret somehow found a gap to reach over - Williams added the two on the whistle.

Matson used the slope wisely and began to use the chip kick to find spaces which kept Chillingworth, Allen and Gliddon on their toes. 

The home team grew in confidence and used the ball well in the miserable conditions to score their third try.

It became increasingly difficult to recognise anyone but Pethy battled tirelessly from one to 15.

Pethy camped themselves in the home team’s 22 and, after a slick drive, Gibbs shot over for the bonus-point try which Williams converted for a 28-15 lead.

Matson monopolised possession in the closing stages and Taylor, Lazinski, Williams, Jones, Coles and Charlton all must have had a double figure tackle count in the final minutes. 

Eventually, Matson got through and worked their way over for a try.
From the restart it began again with Pethy forced back, but just as it looked like the Matson backs had broken through Gallagher and Freeman shut them down.

The relief was short-lived as Matson moved their way upfield and again camped on the Pethy line; some unrecognisable face turned it over and Pethy played smart to run down the clock.

Huge relief greeted the final whistle and a morale-boosting victory.

Team - Sam Chillingworth, Lewis Allen, Ben Freeman, John Gallagher, Henry Gliddon, Nic Sestaret, Dominik Griffin, Arron Gibbs, Mac Taylor, Eryk Lazinski, Greg Charlton, Jack Coles, Carl Jones, Sam Williams, Dan Morgan. Replacements - AJ, Callum Fitchew, Connor Perkins.

On Saturday, North Petherton entertain fourth-placed Newent, while the 2nd XV visit Keynsham.

South West One (W)
Drybrook 12, Bridgwater & Albion 5

HIGH-FLYERS Drybrook were pushed all the way by Albion in this match in South West One (W) on Saturday, writes Barry Knott.

There was never a lot to choose between the sides with Albion collecting a bonus point.

All the scoring was compressed into an 18-minute spell early in the first half, and Bridgwater could not have made a better start with Kieran Devitt snapping up a try out wide after only two minutes after Luke Plummer had punched a hole in Drybrook's defence.

However, Drybrook were back on level terms only four minutes later when they drove into Albion's 22 before Sam Peaper crashed over.

And the hosts scored another try in the 22nd minute, with Peaper again the scorer after the home side won the ball from a five-metre scrum. 

Brian Large added the extra points.

Drybrook went on to have the better of the first half but Albion had more possession than their rivals for the opening 20 minutes of the second half.

The home side, however, regained control of the game and at times Albion had to hang on.

Drybrook, who completed the season's double over Albion, remain second, ten points behind leaders Exeter University with two matches in hand. 

Albion coach Simon Morrell said: "For 60-odd minutes neither side could score as defences were good on both sides, so neither looking like being breached.

"There was hardly anything between the sides - there was virtual parity.

"Drybrook did not have many scoring chances, but converted the pressure they had into points."

One big disappointment for Albion was the early loss of full-back Will Monro with a hamstring injury and only a scrum half on the bench to replace him. 

Hooker Sam Adcock also broke down on the way to the match and did not make an appearance until the 57th minute.