BRIDPORT’S unbeaten start to 2022 was finally halted by a narrow 29-25 loss to Oakmeadians at Meyrick Park in Tribute Dorset & Wilts One South.

A hard-fought game, Bridport were denied what would have been a match-winning try in the dying minutes.

Five minutes from the kick-off Oaks were penalised for offside but Mitch Waters missed the kick for goal. For the following 10 minutes the game was played in both halves until a ruck won by the visitors was spun out along the backs and resulted in a scintillating run by Jordan Neil who scored in the corner, Walters had his kicking boots on and sent the ball between the uprights.

Oaks then were awarded a penalty from which they put the ball in touch.

READ MORE: Mitch Waters plays 100th game for Bridport

Line-out won by Oaks and spun along their line which came to no avail until a rucked ball was illegally stolen by the Blues giving the hosts a chance to send the ball deep into the Blues 22.

A clean line out allowed the Oaks their first threatening run with their strong number 10 crossing the line immediately in front of Bridport’s posts an easy kick and a further two points.

The following 15 minutes was dominated by scrappy play from both sides as they were so evenly matched, knock-ons, forward passes resulting in the inevitable scrum battles.

Then some scoring action at long last. Fumbled ball allowed Waters to make a strong drive in midfield feeding the ball out to Jed Gravelle who drove over the Oaks’ try line and an easy kick with a following wind allowed Waters to add to the points for 14-7.

This goaded the hosts into life and a penalty in their favour gave them a chance to get into the Blues’ 22.

From a line-out they won the ball held in a driving maul then spun out enabling their centre to score under the posts and the extras were added to level the scores.

Action was ding-dong for the next passage of play until a penalty for standing up in the scrum gave Oaks a chance to take a quick tap penalty which saw their number eight touch down under the posts and the kick gave them a 21-14 at half-time.

With a strong wind on their backs the Blues should have taken more advantage of the elements but gave high kicks to a confident Oaks full-back who returned the ball to their advantage.

Kicks deep into touch may have been a better decision but within a few minutes of the second-half whistle a couple of missed tackles allowed a storming break by Oaks resulting in an unconverted try for 26-14.

Fortunately, a penalty was soon awarded to the Blues and Waters gained a further three points.

The second half was destined to remain an exciting game and the supporters were not disappointed.

It was nip and tuck until Oaks gave away a penalty for holding on in the ruck, affording Waters an easy kick for 26-20.

Then came a similar infringement by the Blues and a penalty increased the hosts’ lead to 29-20.

Not to be beaten the Blues drove a maul over the line and a touchdown by Jamie Bickley added a further five points to reduce the deficit to four points.

However, Oaks were holding out with ferocious tackling and in the dying embers Blues crossed their line but the winning try was disallowed as the referee deemed that the ball was held up and not grounded.

Oaks duly kicked the ball off the park and the final whistle blew.

This was amateur rugby at its best, a tight game, no yellow or red cards and handshakes afterwards.

Bridport continue their league campaign with a meeting against sixth-placed Puddletown at the Brewery Ground on Saturday.

Victory could close the Blues to within three points of their opponents, with just nine points separating East Dorset Dockers in fourth and Bridport in ninth.