BRIDPORT Daggers rued late injuries as Wheatsheaf Cabin Crew’s surge of points took them to a 34-14 win in Counties Two Tribute Dorset & Wilts South action.

On an open pitch, subjected to a heavy wind, Bridport were facing a tricky penultimate match of the 2023/24 season.

Daggers started strongly and facing into the wind in the first half, attempted to run the ball as much as possible. This paid dividends when captain Hugh Vivian took a quick tap from a penalty to slice his way through for an opening score, which was converted by Cam Waite.

Looking to get straight back into the game, Wheatsheaf used their larger forwards to carry through the middle.

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Daggers’ defence held firm however a penalty was given away for not rolling away following a tackle.

Having kicked to the corner from the penalty, the resulting maul gave Wheatsheaf’s Duan Geldenhuys the forward momentum to break off and power his way over. Using the wind to curl the ball through the posts, Brendon Bale struck a wonderfully judged conversion.

With momentum behind them, Wheatsheaf managed to hold steady on an attacking scrum, which Daggers had pressurised during the first half.

The ball was moved to Gareth Johnstone who stepped through the front and back-line defence from Daggers to score for 12-7. This brought an end to the first half, in which Daggers had managed the game well, playing into the wind.

Daggers were dealt a blow during the break when fly-half Rory Greening was unable to return in the second half, due to injury. This disruption clearly showed, as Johnstone once again took the ball in open play and used great footwork to score.

Trying to make advantage of the wind, Daggers were guilty of kicking poorly and giving Wheatsheaf’s back three too much time to return the ball with space in front of them. One such kick enabled Mat Bleakley to be fed the ball with room to move, from which he scored in the corner.

Despite the game starting to edge away from Daggers, the character that has been on display all season once again came to the fore.

Having taken control of the back line, in Greening’s absence, Waite distributed the ball well to feed his team-mates from fly-half. This was helped by debutant Euan Chant, who added real tempo from scrum-half. The resulting increase in the speed of play allowed Waite to go through a gap and score under the posts.

It seemed that Daggers might be on the verge of an impressive comeback, until further injuries reduced the team to 14 men, having used all of their replacements.

With a one-man disadvantage, Wheatsheaf took two late tries through captain Ben Coombes and Mark Lerpiniere.

Although it was a disappointing defeat for Daggers, there were plenty of positives to take from the performance.

Having suffered in the last two games with injuries to senior players, there have been opportunities for Waite, Chant, Jake Brook and Louis Cornick who have all impressed.

Daggers’ next and final game will be at home for a league match against Ellingham & Ringwood II on Saturday, April 6.

Bridport Rugby Club will then be hosting Shelby’s Elbows in the evening.