BRIDPORT Daggers ended their Counties Two Tribute Dorset & Wilts South season with a tight 22-21 win over Ellingham & Ringwood II at the Brewery Ground.

With both teams fielding a stronger side than usual, a close encounter began with Daggers getting on the scoreboard first through Sam Petchey’s penalty kick.

With a heavy pack, Ellingham & Ringwood carried close to the ruck and some powerful pick-ups caught Daggers slow to roll away. Harry Westcott sailed the resulting penalty through the uprights against a powerful wind.

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Their line-out heavily disrupted by the conditions, Daggers’ captain Hugh Vivian took the initiative to raise the tempo and quickly tap-and-go from penalties. One of these moments caught Ellingham & Ringwood slow to retreat the full 10 meters and the prolific boot of Petchey once again slotted a long-range kick to regain the lead.

Keeping to their forward carrying tactics, Ellingham & Ringwood continued to gain ground and put the Daggers’ defence under pressure. Despite having kept the ball within the forwards, sensing space out wide, fly-half Henry Benson moved the ball down the line to Josh Milne-Riggs who scored for an unconverted try in the corner.

Before the first half ended, Daggers fought to retake the lead. Pressure and ill-discipline from Ellingham & Ringwood at the breakdown enabled Petchey to take two successful penalty kicks.

At the start of the second period, quick ball from Bridport scrum-half Euan Chant caught the defending team offside, which provided Petchey with the opportunity to give Daggers a buffer on their lead with another penalty.

Having fought hard to get themselves ahead, all of this work was undone when Ellingham & Ringwood built phases through their forwards, reverting to carries close to the ruck. The pressure was too much for Daggers and George Guy drove his way over under the posts for a converted try to bring the scores level.

Moments after their try, Ellingham & Ringwood caught Daggers in an offside position, enabling Westcott to kick his side into the lead.

In the closing stages, Vivian raised the tempo with impressive carries and Andy Easton, playing his last game before retirement, finished off a move to power his way over for a converted try.

With the lead in fine balance, Ellingham & Ringwood threw everything they could at Daggers. A fantastic try-saving tackle in the corner from Harrison Wilkins, who had defended heroically all day, kept the away side out.

Feeling they still had time to secure a win, Westcott took a penalty to get back within one point of Daggers. However, it was Daggers’ defence that remained on top to earn the most slender of wins.

Daggers’ next and final game of the season will be at home for the Brown Bowler against Crewkerne on 20th April 2024.

Before then, the club will be hosting their annual President’s v Chairman’s match on Saturday with faces old and new welcome to participate.