BRIDPORT came agonisingly close to gaining a well-deserved bonus-point try during a 71-21 defeat to league leaders Bournemouth Thirds.

Despite being comprehensively beaten by a professional Bournemouth side, who are unbeaten in Tribute Dorset & Wilts One South, the Blues showed commendable team spirit in the face again of a mounting injury crisis.

Their wretched run of injuries continued losing two key players either side of half-time. Seamus Fitzgerald had to go to hospital following an accidental clash of heads and Daragh McLoughlin limped off early in the second half with a recurrence of his anterior cruciate ligament injury.

As has been the case in their first four matches against the top teams in the league, the Blues were soon trailing on the scoreboard as the Bournemouth backs ran in three early tries.

Blues countered when a knock-on from the kick-off led to a scrum penalty which Mitch Waters took quickly and drove through the defence to score a try which he converted.

The Blues forwards kept the ball tight and put the Bournemouth defence under a lot of pressure with Fitzgerald getting over the line but being held up by excellent Bournemouth defence.

Bournemouth were able to clear their lines and swept into the Blues’ 22 with only a try-saving tackle by Fitzgerald preventing a score. However, the Blues were powerless to stop the Bournemouth backs running in two further tries.

With half-time approaching, the Blues again benefitted from a penalty from the kick-off which Nathan Herbert took quickly to drive over for a converted try. The Blues mounted one more attack but good defence again saw them held up over the line for a score of 35-14 at the break.

With both Fitzgerald and McLoughlin now off the field the forwards were not able to keep the ball tight and the Bournemouth backs were able to exploit the open spaces and score a further five unanswered tries despite two try-saving tackles by Harrison Crane and Peter Mullaney.

With the game moving into the final 10 minutes the Blues found some inspiration with Waters and Livingston making telling breaks into the Bournemouth 22.

From a resulting penalty Hugh Vivian again took the quick tap to drive over the line. The Blues now had the bit between their teeth, going in search of the bonus-point try.

The forwards were immense in their efforts to get the ball over the line gaining a series of penalties as Bournemouth repeatedly infringed but their defence held firm and they were able to force a knock on.

Even so, a superb scrummage effort forced a penalty which gave the Blues one last opportunity but they were again agonisingly held up over the line.

Captain Andrew Livingston said the team fought to the end and were the better side in the closing stages as they sought the bonus-point try.

Bridport host fellow strugglers Salisbury Seconds on Saturday.