Bridlington RUFC 20
Malton and Norton 30
BRIDLINGTON entertained unbeaten league leaders Malton at the weekend knowing that nothing short of a totally committed performance would be enough to maintain their unbeaten home record.
Choosing to play with the strong wind behind them in the first half Brid tore into the vistors with great intensity, keeping the ball well and hitting the rucks as though their lives depended on it.
The intensity of the start took Malton by suprise, forcing them to concede penalties at the first three break downs. From the third in quick succession for handling in a ruck Brid took the lead with a penalty confidently landed by full back Stevie Mellonby.
This was the perfect start Brid were looking for and soon had Malton back under the cosh with some fantastic handling and intimidating physicality around the contact area forcing Malton firmly onto the back foot.
Brid quickly progressed into the Malton 22 metre area where they looked to hammer home their great start but a couple of handling errors offered Malton a short respite.
Despite letting the visitors briefly off the hook Brid pressed hard in defence, determined to convert their fantastic start into points and soon registered their first try of the afternoon when centre Ben Johnson intercepted a pressured Malton pass to race under the posts which Mellonby calmly converted to give Brid a 10-0 lead with just 10 minutes gone.
Brid continued to press Malton into continuous uncharacteristic errors and numerous penalties which they were lucky not to have a player sin binned for.
Despite the great start Brid could not turn the pressure into more points and it was Malton who scored next. After regaining the ball from the kick off the Malton fly half made a break into the heart of the Brid defence before handing on to the full back whose excellent run created the space to put the winger in at the corner for Malton’s first try.
Brid forwards were tiring slightly and began to take their foot off the gas in the scrummages allowing Malton to start imposing themselves more into the game.
Soon the lead was extended after Malton had turned down the opportunity of three points from a penalty and opted for the scrum instead.
From the scrum the ball was whipped out to the centre whose strong run was halted by the Brid defence but from the resulting maul some dynamic play from the Malton forwards saw their prop crash over for their second try to level the scores.
Brid quickly regained the ball from the restart and continued to batter at the Malton defence knowing that they had to push home the advantage of the elements before the half time whistle blew. Time and again they pressed the Malton line but could not find that killer instinct to convert the points.
On the half hour another good forward drive from Malton caused Brid to stray off side and the Malton fly half added the three points to give Malton a 10-13 half time lead.
Brid then suffered from a rare lack of discipline when they decided to take the law into their own hands at one of the contentious penalties conceded by Malton with Stevie Mellonby sin binned for punching.
It was clear that Brid were becoming increasingly frustrated at the rather weak refereeing of the break down area, allowing Malton to kill the ball and control the game far more than Bridlington.
The second half started in the same manner as the first with Malton under immense pressure from the fired up Brid team who were constantly winning the contact area against a much bigger Malton side.
However, on the quarter hour mark Brid had a lapse in concentration and intensity, taking thier foot off the gas and allowing the Malton number 8 to pick up at a scrum and feed the scrum half who darted through a gap to score.
This was a really disappointing moment in the game and a rather soft try to concede to allow Malton to push further into the lead.
Brid responded marvellously though, keeping their heads up when previously they would have dropped. Five minutes later the arrears were reduced when a series of brutal forward assaults on the Malton line saw the Brid pack keep the ball with great retention.
As the Malton defenders began to run out with the seventh drive Brid finally got over the line when Regan Stirk powered over for an unconverted try.
Malton had to pull out the stops again and it was the powerful boot of the Malton fly half that punished Brid from an infringement around the breakdown. Bridlington were penalised on halfway and with a massive kick he sent the ball cleanly between the posts to give Malton an eight-point lead with 15 minutes left.
Bridlington were not down though and managed to summon up some reserves of energy from somewhere to once again hammer away at the Malton defence.
From a scrum the ball popped out with Brid first to react. Ben Sanderson fed the ball to Martin Robinson who produced a moment of magic in front of the stand to attack the Malton defence down the blind side before drawing the defender and passing the ball to winger Will Davies with a fantastic over head pass.
Davies then pinned his ears back and raced 40 metres to score a much deserved try and pull Brid back to 20-23 with four minutes to play.
This score rejuvenated Brid who somehow again raised their game, despite having a number of players littered around the park suffering from cramp. Brid attacked the Malton line with a number of phases and encamped on the opposition goal ine but could not break down the resolute Malton defence.
When Malton turned over the ball a massive clearance from the Malton centre from his own 22 metre area sailed into touch just five metres from the home line. This was a massive blow that could have gone either way but luck was not with the Brid side.
Then in an attempt to clear their lines quickly and relieve the pressure full back Stevie Mellonby attempted a quick throw to Martin Robinson but the ball sailed over Robinson’s head and with no other Brid player in sight the Malton centre and winger followed up well, gratefully accepting the kind bounce of the ball to romp over beneath the post for a converted try.
This was a massive body blow for Brid deep into injury time who had gone from nearly winning the match on the Malton try line to losing the match and even the bonus point for losing by less than than seven points.
The final whistle blew and the dejected Brid lads left the pitch although everyone of them should be proud of the effort they had given.
If that level of commitment is witnessed every week then Brid will have no worries for the rest of the season.