Whitchurch 13 Bridgnorth 31
Bridgnorth Win League Title
Match Photos by Dave Cooper - CLICK HERE!
Bridgnorth travelled over to Shropshire local rivals Whitchurch knowing that 2 points would mathematically secure the Midlands 1 West title but the All Blacks went one further and got all 5 points to seal the league emphatically and gain promotion to the national leagues!
The away team ran out onto the pitch to a huge roar from the masses of supporters who have been travelling to all away games this season cheering on the team and quite often outnumbered home support.
The match started with Bridgnorth putting the home side under pressure and winning a number of penalties which were kicked to the corner but each time good home defence held out everything that was thrown at them.
Will Biddell took a knock to the head and had to leave the field which meant flanker Grainger with his lifting blocks and scrum cap on had to stand out on the wing. Another knock to Seb Brooks meant second row Nick Davies also had to join the back line on the other wing but unfortunately Brooks returned to the field after treatment.
Bridgnorth were dominating a lot of the game but without reward but Bladen took a quick tap to break down into the home 22 area where a Whitchurch player was caught offside preventing a potential try and was sent to the bin. Another catch and drive for Bridgnorth allowed Ed John to break off and stretch out to dot the ball down for the opening try after 20 minutes. This was then converted by Simon Fletcher.
Whitchurch competed very well all game and ran the ball from everywhere causing a few problems. Bridgnorth started to concede penalties which allowed their full back to slot 2 over and reduce the deficit to 1 point.
The half time whittle was about to be blown and Bridgnorth were pushing for another score to ease the pressure which eventually came through Yarper Rochelle who crashed over from a catch and drive. The conversion was missed and the half ended 12-6.
The All Blacks started the second half with the strong wind on their backs and intelligent kicking by Fletcher pinned the home side back. A clean line out for Bridgnorth allowed the ball to be quickly moved out for Ted Parker to lift the ball to bulldozing Crossley who broke through and dived over for the try which was converted.
A good start to the second half got Bridgnorths tails up who were starting to really dominate the hundreds of scrums through great work by Griffiths, Smeilus, John and Stirling. A number of scrums on the home try line failed to just get over but one pass out to Fletcher allowed him to bosh his opposite number over the line to get the 4th bonus point try and get one hand on the league title. Fletcher also added the extras.
Whitchurch were still a constant threat with ball in hand with hard carries in the forwards and quick feet out wide give them an overlap and their wing to touch down in the corner which was well converted and to give them a change of a comeback.
Bridgnorth quickly wiped away any Whitchurch hopes with another strong catch and drive with Adam Stirling controlling and steering towards the line for Pumba to pinch the ball and score. Fletcher hit the post with the conversion attempt.
The game eventually petered out with the final score 31-13 and the Bridgnorth celebrations commenced with champagne sprayed everywhere. Man of the Match went to Simon Fletcher.
The players, coaches and the whole club have put in a huge amount of work all season which has all paid off taking Bridgnorth to the highest level the club has ever been to and will now compete in National 3 Midlands next season. Congratulations to everyone involved!
There is still one more game to go on the 30th April where they take on Hereford on the EDG 3:00pm KO. Bridgnorth lost to Hereford earlier in the season but will be looking to finish the season off on a high as they deserve to!