Bignell instrumental in Seasiders' fightback

PUBLISHED: 09:44 16 January 2011

RUGBY :  Weston  V  Hartpury College

RUGBY : Weston V Hartpury College

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FLANKER Richard Bignell scored two second half tries and was instrumental in their third as Weston recovered from a 0-17 interval scoreline to force a draw at Bath Road.

BRIDGWATER 27 pts

WESTON 27 pts

FLANKER Richard Bignell scored two second half tries and was instrumental in their third as Weston recovered from a 0-17 interval scoreline to force a draw at Bath Road.

The hosts had scored their 17 points by the 13th minute and the Seasiders were already in deep water.

Bridgwater’s kick-off was spilled and Sam Osborne took full advantage for George Williams to convert. Williams then kicked massively to Weston’s left corner, and from the line-out, Ali Blundell touched down, and worse was to follow.

Another knock-on gave Osborne the chance to put full-back Will Tops over, but significantly, Williams was unable to convert either score.

Weston gradually got themselves back into the match and despite conceding a vital line-out, they kept up the pressure with runs by wings Paul Sprague and George Wright.

Skipper George Sparks and Bignell also went close but Bridgwater had to defend stoutly for the 10 minutes before the interval. But they were undone two minutes into the second half.

The Seasiders attacked with vigour and seven phases produced the first of Bignell’s tries, converted by James Mackay.

Mackay then added penalties in the 50th and 57th minutes to bring the score back to 17-13. But during the following five minutes Bridgwater replied with two stunning tries by the wings, James Oustwick and Gavin Hancock to give them a 14 point advantage with only 12 minutes of normal time remaining.

But Weston were up to the task and put their hosts under pressure for the remainder of the match.

Having worked their way to the home line, four pick-and-drives resulted in Bignell’s second try and in time added, his charge down of an attempted clearance gave Dewey Swartbooi his first score for the club. Mackay coolly converted both tries to record his fifth goal from as many attempts.

Weston: J Waterman, G Wright, S Bennett, J Mackay, P Sprague (R Bennett 70), D Swartbooi, J Conway, D Swann, C Withers, A Richards (A Glen 46), A Russell, J Rudkin (G Simpson 62), R Bignell, G Sparks (c).

This was much better for Weston. After that disastrous start they did well to hold their collective nerve for the remainder of the first half and having done that, their reposte after the break gave them a well-deserved two league points.

In what was a splendid spectacle, the pack held sway for an hour with their front row of David Swann, Craig Withers and Steve Donegan offering solidity and their back row of Sparks, Jamie Rudkin and Bignell looking after the breakdown.

Based on a more than useful effort by Jack Conway and Mackay, there was a much improved performance by the backs, including a good attacking game by Wright, who has relocated to the wing.

Their fightback augurs well for Saturday’s home match against Newton Abbot.

WESTON host Newton Abbot on Saturday and the visitors will be appearing at the Recreation Ground for the first time for almost 35 years.

The last time they were there, on September 18, 1976, Weston’s high-scoring wing Chris Brown dominated the match with a record six tries as the Seasiders won by 48 points to nil.

Their other try scorers were fly-half Phil Townshend and flanker John Hopkins, and two by centre Hugh Preston who added three conversions. Brown’s final try was converted by second rower Kevin Fishlock.

The Weston team on that day was: Colin Reeves (c), Chris Brown, Hugh Preston, Rob Keenan, Tony Weaden, Phil Townshend, John Bawden, Bob Smith, Charlie Saunders, Mike Campbell, Tony Redman, Kevin Fishlock, Graham Watts, John Hopkins and Colin Price.

Although they first met as far back as 1896, fixtures between them have been sparse but relations are now resumed as a result of the All-Whites’ promotion to National 3 South West.

Fly-half James Reid’s late drop goal at Rackerhayes in October gave the Seasiders a narrow 13-11 victory, so the visitors will be looking to redress the balance on what will be the 40th match between the two clubs.

The kick-off at the Recreation Ground is at 2.30pm.

Weston Utd 31 pts

Nailsea & Backwell 14 pts

WESTON’S second string overcame their nearest rivals with another bonus point victory in front of a large crowd at the Rec.

Weston opened the scoring after 10 minutes when forwards and backs combined to create a try for skipper Stuart Board, Chris Young adding the extras. The hosts went further ahead soon after when Young’s centre partner Paul O’Connor set off on a fine run which led to a penalty. From the resulting line-out, Weston got the rolling maul going and former first team captain Dave Burge touched down.

Nailsea got back into the game with a fine try involving some great handling which was touched down by their elusive full-back. This try was converted to cut Weston’s lead to five points.

Weston stretched their lead just before half-time when good work by No 8 Eddy Saunders, O’Connor, Simon Hudson, Burge saw full-back Anthony Gregory touch down, converted with ease by Young.

The visitors hit back and it was a try saving tackle by Gregory which saw the Nailsea left wing just put his foot in touch to prevent them closing the gap.

The second half produced more excitement with Weston scoring first when impressive right wing Kirk Middlemiss combined with opposite wing Gareth Howells to put the latter in for a score, which Young narrowly failed to convert.

Weston could have added to their lead, but a dropped ball over the Nailsea prevented this. Great runs by Middlemiss and O’Connor nearly led to scores, but Nailsea kept their hosts at bay and went up the other end to reduce the deficit to 12 points.

Weston however, had the last say when Saunders scored his second from a pushover to give leading points scorer Young his third conversion of the afternoon.

Nailsea had further chances to score, but a couple of passes were adjudged to be forward and Weston’s defence held firm. It was a fine game and a credit to Somerset One rugby.

For Weston, openside flanker James Matthews had a storming game and was a constant thorn in the Nailsea side. The front row of Darren Doughty, Burge and Luke Grimes once again performed admirably and the backs caused problems throughout. For Nailsea, their young scrum-half and left wing Matt Watkins had fine games.

Weston have another difficult game away at fourth placed Bridgwater and Albion this weekend. Another must win and a chance to improve on their nine point lead at the top of Somerset One.

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