South West 1 West
Bridgwater & Albion 29, Newton Abbot 22

BRIDGWATER came out on top in this hard-fought game but Newton Abbot belied their league position and made the hosts fight all the way, writes Richard Walsh.

The match saw Albion wear their new first team shirts for the first time.

The shirt has been designed to commemorate the large number of players who lost their lives in the First World War (1914-18), which led to the creation of the club in its current format.

Upon the kick-off on Saturday, visitors Newton Abbot were straight into the ascendancy and, after five minutes, winger Josh Davey eased his way past two tackles to score a try which Jake Monnington converted.

Bridgwater responded with a penalty by Stuart Heal, slotted over from 25 metres out.

Newton Abbot extended their lead on the half an hour, when Ryan Partington picked up a loose ball and ran down the line for an unconverted try.

Once again Albion came straight back and Heal kicked his second penalty to trim the visitors’ lead to 12-6.

With the clock ticking down to half-time, Heal slotted home his third penalty and, almost from the restart, George Sluman broke free from a melee of players just inside the visitors’ half and scored a try to put the hosts into a 14-12 lead at the break.

Bridgwater came out strongly after the interval but after five minutes they found themselves reduced to 14 men, when they had a player yellow carded.

Shortly afterwards, however, the teams were levelled up as Newton Abbot also had a player sent to the sin bin for 10 minutes.

The home side were in the ascendancy by this point and they extended their lead when Dylan Evans went over on the left.

Bridgwater were motoring now and Will Monro scored a try on the right, soon after which Newton Abbot had another player yellow carded. The home side kept up the pressure and were rewarded when Ethan Trebble-Westlake scored a try to the left of the posts.

Newton Abbot were far from done, however, and they showed their fighting spirit by scoring two late tries in the dying minutes as the game ended 29-22 to the home side.

Bridgwater & Albion: Lewis Phillips, Jordan Buller, Graham Slorance, Wayne Sprangle, Dan Kemmish, Tom Hopkins, George Sluman, Ethan Trebble- Westlake, Tom Forunier D’Albe, Stuart Heal (c), Dylan Evans, James Collings, Ryan Barnett, Will Monro, Oskar White. Replacements (all used): Richard Bright, Shaun Mahoney, Matt Ranson.

Albion’s director of rugby, Geoff Sluman, said afterwards: “I find it very difficult to understand how, when they played like they did against us that Newton Abbot are where they are in the league.

“It is clear that in recent weeks they have changed a lot, and I predict they will start winning games and climb their way up the league table.”

“We played a very business-like game.

“We went behind early on but we stuck to our task, kept doing a lot of the things that we had been practising and there was a confidence that it would come good.

“Even though we have won a couple now we are deliberately critical of our own performances so we can improve further, so we still have plenty to work on in training.”

There is extra motivation for Albion this week, with the first derby match of the season against North Petherton – who were without a scheduled fixture at the weekend – coming up on Friday night.

Petherton’s Beggars Brook is the venue, for what will be a 7.30pm kick-off.