South West 1 West

Bridgwater & Albion 21, Devonport Services 14

THIS was a game of two very contrasting halves, with Bridgwater & Albion scoring three tries in the first half, which turned out to be enough to secure them victory against a very tough and combative Services side, writes Richard Walsh.

Albion’s fourth win on the bounce came as a result of a real team effort, made all the more impressive because the visitors had started the day in second place in the table.

The hosts were in the ascendancy from the kick-off and created a good scoring opportunity that was spurned after only two minutes of play.

Bridgwater continued to create pressure on the Services defence, though, and on 16 minutes skipper Stuart Heal opened the scoring when he crashed over for a try to the left of the posts, which he then added the extras to.

On the half-hour mark the visitors knocked on clearing their lines and the ball was subsequently kicked away by a defender.

As a result of the general melee involving players from both sides, Services had a player yellow carded,

Albion were camped on the Services line now and, after 35 minutes, Will Monro - who once again was proving to be a handful for the opposition - went over for a try on the left which Heal converted.

Monro was very much to the fore in the hosts’ third try of the half, as he covered a lot of ground to catch a high chip forward from his own half and then made a good break before laying the ball off to Tom Fournier D’Albe, who went over for a try which Heal converted, making the score 21-0 at the break.

The visitors regrouped at the interval and came out strongly in the second half.

However, despite creating scoring opportunities, they were let down on several occasions by their final pass, which allowed Bridgwater to clear their lines.

The game was held up for several minutes when Fournier was injured, which eventually saw him leave the field and play no further part - Jay Owens coming on as his replacement.

Devonport continued to keep the pressure on the home defence and with 15 minutes remaining they eventually found a way through, as Seb Tooke scored a try which Richard Goldsby-West converted.

The visitors threw everything into attack but the home defence held firm until time added on, when the visitors scored a second try through Tom Goodman that Goldsby-West again converted.

Shortly afterwards the referee brought the game to an end, with the final score 21-14 to Bridgwater & Albion.

Bridgwater and Albion: Matt Ranson, Gavin Knight, Lewis Phillips, Tom Hopkins, Dan Kemmish, Eoghan Westhoff, George Sluman, Ethan Trebble-Westlake, Tom Fournier D’Albe, Stuart Heal (c), Roger Drabble, Simon Honey, Ryan Barnett, Will Monro, Oskar White. Replacements (all used): Tim Blades, George Musgrave, Jay Owens.

Albion’s victory leaves them in fifth spot, level on 49 points with fourth-placed Lydney, and just three points off Devonport in second.

Geoff Sluman, Albion’s director of rugby, was happy with his side’s victory over Devonport at College Way on Saturday.

However, he was disappointed that his side failed to gain a bonus point from the game.

“Some may be surprised but we have mixed feelings about the win against Devonport,” he said.

“In one respect we are happy to win against a side that has been top of our league for the majority of the season.

“We were also pleased with how we managed the second half to maintain our lead.

“On the other hand, we are disappointed we didn’t score a fourth try to secure a bonus point.

“I think that is a good sign, that they set themselves those expectations and put themselves in a position to deliver them.

“However, if you asked us at the start of the day if we would be happy with a four point win we would have undoubtedly said yes.”

Sadly, Albion had to concede their 2nd XV fixture with Bristol Harlequins because they could not field a front row and a front row replacement.

“This was caused by two players withdrawing with injury on the day of the game,” Sluman said.

“We knew we were asking a lot in them playing but in the end common sense and safety had to take priority.”

Looking ahead, Sluman added: “Next week our first team are without a fixture, while our 2nd XV host North Petherton on Friday evening at 7.30pm - please come along and support if you can.”