Bridport’s late fightback against Trowbridge was not enough to win their first preseason game as the Blues eventually lost 26 – 19 to the Wiltshire side.
Despite the game being marred by the referee’s overactive whistle, underdogs Bridport matched their higher-leagued visitors in a thrilling contest that blooded some new and old blood back into the club after 19 months with no rugby at the Brewery Ground.
A first-half try from forward Seb Phillips meant the game was close at the interval, whilst scores late on for backs Charlie Samways and Corbin Newman created a nail-biting finish with the possibility of saving a draw at the death.
Trowbridge would have taken the lead earlier in first-half than they did if it was not for the last-ditch tackle of returning trawlerman Adam Vickery, who stated after the game that the ‘sea air had been doing him some good’. The opposition wing looked certain to score in the corner before Vickery came across and cleared him into touch.
However, it would only be a few more minutes before the visitors had their first of four tries. The Blues were slow to react to a penalty conceded around halfway as Trowbridge took a quick tap and with one pass and some weak defence they were under the sticks for the try. Quick conversion and the Blues were 7 – 0 down.
Not to be downhearted, The Blues bit back straight away. Trowbridge was unable to catch the kick-off and the resulting dominant scrum broke apart and George Hussey collected the ball and charged off toward the try line. Losing control over the line, second-row Phillips was at hand to drop on the ball to score his first and easiest try for Bridport.
With Mitch Waters and Nathan Herbert off the pitch with injuries, the conversion was left to Newman to take possibly his first ever kick off the tee. Wise words from the now water carrier Waters was not enough to get the ball over. 7 – 5 to the visitors at halftime.
The next 20 minutes featured a few too many errors for the Blues. Within no time at all the home side had conceded another three tries and looked dead and buried. 26 – 7. With only 20 minutes to go… Bridport had a mountain to climb.
The return to the pitch of some of Bridport’s old guard, including Liam Poole, Rob ‘Oz’ Sullivan and Pete ‘The Power’ Phillips gave the Blues some much needed go forward. Relentless carrying finally saw the home team back at the oppositions try line. Quick ball came out to debutant Samways and the hot stepper quickly bound his way through four men in the defence to get over the line. Conversion kicked by the returning Waters. 26 – 12.
Now lifted, the Blues kept the opposition camped in their own half. For what must have been the 1000th time in the game the referee blew his whistle for a penalty. A weak point previously in the match, this time Bridport were back in defence ready for the quick tap, allowing Newman to intercept a pass and run in unopposed from 30 meters. 26 – 19. One try needed to draw the game.
Bridport’s best passage of play of the game came at the death. With Trowbridge on their line defending for their lives, the Blues won penalty after penalty as they looked to equalize. With the opposition on the ropes, hanging on for life it’s safe to say the ref threw in the towel to save them with some dubious calls.
Despite the final result, Bridport will take pride in their performance and will look to improve against visiting London-based team Barnet Elizabethans next Saturday – 3 o’clock kick-off.