A BRIDGE TOO FAR
The first game after the Xmas period saw Wellingborough make the trek to Bridgnorth, a town situated in the heart of Shropshire.
This game was for a place in the semi-finals of the RFU Midlands Intermediate Cup. The opposition were sitting at the top of their league looking favourites for promotion and had an unbeaten record this season.
Boro made a couple of changes to the starting line up with Jezz Brookes and Dave Morgan starting in the pack.
Boro kicked off to Bridgnorth and were soon awarded with a penalty which they kicked to the corner. This early pressure saw Bridgnorth on the back foot as some good tactical kicking from Pete Vickers pinned Bridgnorth in their own 22. However, Boro couldn’t take advantage and a series of penalties conceded saw Bridgnorth progress into the Boro half and eventually down to the Boro try line.
A series of driving mauls from Bridgnorth saw the Boro team backpedalling and the Bridgnorth scrum half broke away to score the opening points (North 7v0 Boro). Boro tried to answer back with a break of their own as Pete Vickers stepped through the Bridgnorth defence but any momentum was lost as Boro fell foul of the referee. Bridgnorth kicked into the Boro 22 but Tom Bryan managed to field the kick and call the mark (just). Boro were now under pressure but a quickly tapped penalty by Kyle Danns saw Boro clear the ball to halfway.
Bridgnorth were having the lions share of possession but strong first up tackling and scramble defence saw Bridgnorth thwarted. A turnover from Boro saw them go on the attack but a mistake saw Bridgnorth move back into the Boro 22. Bridgnorth using their set piece attack out together a driving maul which saw the scrum half score his second try to extend their lead (North 14v0 Boro).
Pressure from the next kick off saw Boro win the ball and progress into the Bridgnorth 22 after a clever kick from Pete Vickers but a poor lineout allowed Bridgnorth to clear. It wasn’t long before Bridgnorth were in a position to attack the Boro line and after a series of drives were thwarted by a robust Boro defence the referee deemed that one was illegally pulled down and Chris Shipman was sent to the bin for 10 minutes. Bridgnorth took full advantage of the extra man to score a try through their backs in the left hand corner (North 19v0 Boro).
The next kick off saw Boro trying to trick Bridgnorth and although this didn’t pay off Boro did manage to get some possession of the ball. Kyle Danns and Jezz Brookes carried the ball forward along with Paul Lambert and were rewarded for their endeavours as Bridgnorth were caught offside. Pete Vickers stepped up and slotted the ball over and that was the end of the half (North 19v3 Boro).
Half Time Score
Bridgnorth 19v3 Wellingborough
From the kick off Bridgnorth took early possession but an early penalty at a lineout saw Boro take possession of the ball. Boro started to use their forwards to make progress before releasing the outside backs, Steven Gall, Tom Mair, Luke Gardiner and Tom Bryan into a bit of space. However, some strong Bridgnorth defence prevented Boro from getting that all important try.
One piece of play saw a kick chipped ahead which Luke Gardiner gathered up and broke free of the Bridgnorth defence beating three players before eventually being hauled down. This change in play and intensity from Boro lead to a penalty being awarded which was converted bringing Boro back within two scores (North 19v6 Boro). This positive play seemed to spur the team on as more possession was kept as Boro started to string together a number of phases of play.
Boro now started to make some yards around the ruck before releasing Pete Vickers into space allowing him to dictate where Boro were going to play from. Luke Gardiner started to revel in the extra room and take advantage of a stretched defence by making progress down the right hand side of the pitch. However, Boro then conceded the ball to Bridgnorth who marched down into the Boro 22 and were rewarded with a penalty which was converted (North 22v6 Boro).
The intensity in play from Boro was upped and the forwards in particular Shaun Mackie, Rob Owen and Kyle Danns started to carry the ball around the fringes of the ruck. Quick and effective clearing out of any defenders from the other forwards saw Boro awarded an attacking lineout in the Bridgnorth 22. However, a combination of poor decision making and strong defence saw Bridgnorth clear their lines.
With the game drawing to a close Bridgnorth were awarded a further penalty which was converted (North 25v6 Boro). The final moments of the match saw good attacking play from Boro from both forwards and backs as they pushed for a deserved try but a mistake saw the referee blow his whistle and with that the cup run ended.
Bridgnorth 25v6 Wellingborough
Pete Vickers 2 pens
It’s game like these that are deemed as ‘character building’ and although the game was lost the team can hold their heads high. Bridgnorth are probably the strongest team at this level in the Midlands so to come away having tested them at various points in the match is something to be proud of. The game also gave us the chance to blow away a few cobwebs in preparation for the resumption of the league campaign away at Dunstablians next week.
Finally, all the players and backroom team would like to thank all those supporters who travelled on the coach and in their cars to watch us, your support is always appreciated but even more so when you travel long distances to watch us.
Written by Matt Armstrong