The Daggers, with their final home league game of the season, got back to winning ways with a hard fought victory over local rivals Puddletown; gaining revenge for the 29-15 defeat in December. The strong blustery wind and the seemingly endless string of penalties conceded by both sides produced a game lacking in both flow and cohesion. The Daggers backs produced two moments of magic scoring tries in the first half with only two Mitch Waters penalties being the solitary scores in the second half.
Both teams held a minutes silence before the match in memory of former player and 2nd XV Captain Keith Readings who sadly passed away last week.
The Daggers were playing into the wind and from the kick off it was obvious that this was going to cause problems, make line outs difficult and penalty kicks for touch hard to complete. For the first twenty minutes both defences were on top with neither side able to make any clean line breaks. With Puddletown playing with the wind the frequency of penalties meant that most of the play was in the Bridport half and with their line out functioning very well the Daggers had a lot of defending to do with Puddletown coming the closest to score when a driving maul was well held up over the line.
Jed Gravelle then made one of his trademark electric breaks from deep in his own half, the ball was well recycled by the Daggers but play was stopped for an injury and from the resulting scrum Puddletown cleared their lines. A 50-22 kick gave Puddletown a 10 metre lineout, which was overthrown, gathered by James Bickley who broke towards half way offloading to Waters who, with superb support from Daragh Mcoughlin and Nathan Herbert, swept the Daggers in to their opponents 22. Herbert offloaded to Corben Newman who ran if for a superb try; converted by Waters.
Puddletown countered very quickly and, having forced their way into the Bridport 22, kicked through and with a good bounce ran in under the posts to equalize the scores. With Bridport now opting to take tap penalties rather than kick they were well rewarded when – following a penalty resulting from a lineout gained, in turn, from a 50-22 kick – Waters went quickly. The ball went through the backs with Sam Petchey offloading to Jordan Neil to score in the corner giving a half time score of 12-7.
With the wind behind them Bridport were able to keep Puddletown pinned back in their own half and despite two excellent breaks by Gravelle the Daggers could not make any real headway as the opponent’s defence held firm. Finally, Puddletown conceded two penalties in quick succession enabling Waters to stretch the lead to 18-7 going into the final 10 minutes. There the followed a remarkable passage of play with Puddletown gaining a series quickly taken penalties but being
unable to break the Bridport defence who held out until the final whistle.
Captain Andrew Livingston said:
“Once again, Puddletown was a team that we hoped for revenge after a poor performance in the first half of the season. The result was good, but we know as a team that the performance could have been better. The squad is continuing to grow and with it the ambitions of the players. A few years and this team will be back competing in the Southern Counties league.”