BRIDPORT Daggers put on an extremely brave showing, running Blandford close in a 22-12 defeat away from home in their first game of 2024.

The defeat leaves Bridport second bottom in Counties Two Tribute Dorset & Wilts South, while Blandford are third.

As the game began, Blandford won the ball from their kick-off and began to show very impressive interplay between their forwards and backs.

Following a scrum that started on Daggers’ 10-metre line, Blandford attacked width to width, eventually finding space on the left wing to score, despite the best efforts of Bert Jovanovic.

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Bridport got straight back into the game, following a break from Hugh Vivian, starting in Daggers’ half.

The ball was fed to Harrison Wilkins who used good footwork, only to be pulled down close to Blandford’s try line.

From this position, Daggers went close in the opposite corner only for the ball to be recycled back quickly and allowing fly-half Will Scott to go in under the posts.

With the momentum behind them, the pressure applied from Daggers saw Blandford’s discipline decline, resulting in an opportunity to gain the ball back in the attacking 22.

Following a hard carry in the centre of the field by Vivian, the ball was once again moved quickly to the right side of the pitch where Camille Bird ran through his opposing player to go over the line for a well-taken try.

In the closing stages of the first half, Blandford pressured the Daggers’ try line, only to be met by a resolute defensive effort. The half ended with Daggers holding the Blandford attack up over the try line, taking the lead into the break.

In the early stages of the second half, Blandford’s scrum-half weighted a deft kick to find space in the Daggers’ backfield.

Blandford were able to seize the ball and use quick hands to work their way over in the corner, for an unconverted score and bringing them within two points of Daggers.

For much of the second half, both sides fought for dominance and the balance began to tilt in Blandford’s favour following a Daggers’ yellow card.

Blandford fly-half Conor Holmes was unable to convert the penalty opportunity to take the lead, however it was not long before Blandford made this advantage count, as their forwards powered over under the posts.

This unconverted score meant that Daggers trailed 15-12 going into the last period of the match.

In the closing stages and chasing the game, Daggers took a chance to play from their own try line, which backfired when the ball was seized by Blandford for the last score of the game. The final try somewhat flattered the hosts on the score line, in a game which had been fought on a close level throughout.

Nevertheless, this was a superb showing from Daggers and provides much confidence heading towards a big run of games across January.

Bridport’s next game comes at North Dorset Seconds on Saturday.