NORTH Petherton first team manager Andrew Ford hailed the defensive efforts of his side after their narrow derby victory over Bridgwater & Albion on Friday night.

Pethy edged home 9-7 for a win dedicated to Jason Collard, after both clubs had paid their respects to the club stalwart.

Collard, known as ‘JC’, passed away last week and tributes have flooded in for a much-loved figure on the local sporting scene.

A minute’s silence preceded the derby, which was watched by nearly 800 spectators, and Pethy dedicated their win to Collard.

READ MORE: Pethy edge close derby contest

On the match itself, Ford said: “Both sides defended very, very well.

“What let both teams down was the penalty count but fortunately we kicked our penalties early to get our points on the board.

“Bridgwater turned down a few kickable opportunities to go for the corner but we defended superbly.

“They were tough conditions to play in - underfoot wasn’t too bad, but a greasy ball led to a few knock-ons in contact and similar errors.

“We were very physical and I can’t recall Albion breaking our defensive line - their points came in the 80th minute courtesy of a crossfield kick and fine finish.

“We were rarely in their 22, though we did have a try disallowed, but we executed our plan very well.

“From one to 18, our efforts were admirable.”

Bridgwater & Albion director of rugby Geoff Sluman was clearly disappointed by his team’s narrow defeat on Friday, but had no hesitation in congratulating North Petherton on their success.

Sluman said: “No doubt about it, it was not the result we were hoping for.

“We did not start well and being nine points down after the first 18 or 20 minutes is where we lost the game.

“In the first 20 minutes I think we conceded about nine penalties and were awarded just one.

“We conceded a penalty on average once every two minutes in the opening quarter.

“Pethy only had to convert a third of the nine penalties awarded to them to win the match, so we have to conclude that is where we lost it.

“Not all of those things we can control, but more than half of them we could, and if we had done that then the result may have been different.

“The facts are Pethy won the game and we have no hesitation in congratulating them on the win.

“It wasn’t exactly an advert for flowing rugby - just penalties for the first 78 minutes of the game - but the passion and commitment was clear."

The two sides do not have to wait long to resume hostilities - they meet again this Saturday in the Somerset Cup.

Both teams are likely to rotate their squads for the match and offer opportunities for different players to impress.