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RUGBY: Blues in brave fight against the leaders
3:09pm Tuesday 18th February 2014 in Rugby
BLANDFORD 22 BRIDPORT 15
LEAGUE leaders Blandford entertained lowly Bridport in one of only four league matches to take place in Dorset & Wilts One South.
The state of the Blandford pitch was borderline right up until a few minutes before kick-off when a sudden deluge left water all over the surface.
These conditions were to become an advantage to the heavier home pack throughout the game.
Perhaps the home side were a little casual at the start because the visitors took the ball from the first scrum, passed it down all the backs for Nathan Herbert to dab the ball down in the right corner. Rory Greening converted and the Blues were 7-0 up almost immediately.
Blandford were stung into action by this impertinence and soon settled themselves to launch several promising attacks at the Blues’ line.
Bridport and the mud managed to withhold this pressure but, from a penalty deep in the visitors’ territory, the Bland-ford pack won the lineout and drove hard to the line.
Their number eight then spun off the side to touch down in the corner for his side’s first unconverted try.
The Blues recovered their composure to spend more time in the opposition half for the second quarter of the game.
Greening took advantage of the wind to attempt a successful long range-penalty to bring the half-time score up to 10-5 in favour of the visitors.
Ominously, the wind freshened in the second half in the home side’s favour and poor tackling allowed a big Bland-ford centre to brush off two tacklers to score under the posts. With an easy conversion, the home side took the lead 12-10.
Weak tackling seemed to spread across all the Bridport players after that.
Failure to make first tackles count gave the home side a running momentum, which was very hard to counter.
The hefty Blandford pack pushed a maul about 30 metres up the pitch and won a penalty for Bridport seemingly dragging the maul down when the intention was to spin it around.
A kick to the corner saw a repeat of the first home try with the pack driving to the line for an unconverted pushover try.
Blandford appeared to have the game by the scruff of the neck with their passing being much improved, despite the torrid conditions of sleeting rain and wind.
Bridport then lost two key players to injury and, from there, their heads dropped.
Blandford brought on fresh reserves and repeated scrums on the Blues’ five-metre line brought about a further, and almost inevitable, pushover try.
The pitch showed lines of stud tracks where the Bridport pack had locked out their scrum but to no avail.
Despite the conversion being missed, the home side still took a 22-10 lead and it all looked wrapped up.
However, the perverse weather conditions changed yet again in the final minutes of the match. The sun came out and Bridport suddenly reg-ained some fire. The Blues forced their way back up the field to win a scrum close to the Blandford line and that led to scrum-half Ollie Everett ghosting past three defenders to score close to the corner.
Once again the conversion was missed but the visitors were still able to go home with a losing bonus point.
They could also take pride in their determination in respect of their opposition.
The second team’s game at Ellingham & Ringwood was a victim of the weather but has now been rearranged for this Saturday. The firsts, meanwhile, have a rearranged contest at Salisbury.
All are welcome at the clubhouse to watch England versus Ireland at 4pm.