Marauders bring Merit League trophy back to Dukes Park

Bridlington Marauders celebrate victory
Bridlington Marauders celebrate victory

The Marauders capped a brilliant season for Bridlington RUFC by winning the Merit League Division Two play-off finall.

After the first team exceeded all expectations by finishing third in Yorkshire One, the club’s third team ensured there would also be some silverware in the Dukes Park clubhouse.

Action from Bridlington Marauders v Hessle Stags

Action from Bridlington Marauders v Hessle Stags

They overcame Hessle Stags, who had finished top of the league standings, with a 17-7 win, thanks to two tries from Michael Nugent and a man of the match display by Tom Harwood.

Bridlington got off to a dream start, pressurising Hessle from the kick off and forcing them to kick to touch.

With the lineout won, scrum half Stevie Mellonby darted through a gap.

Ben Lawry was in support to pick and drive the ball on, and the Marauders pack recycled the ball for Tom Kemp who decided to kick cross-field.

Action from Bridlington Marauders v Hessle Stags

Action from Bridlington Marauders v Hessle Stags

Nugent was able to catch the bouncing ball and ground it for the first try of the match, successfully converted by Mellonby.

After the restart, Hessle were able to gain possession and kicked to touch to relieve the pressure.

Bridlington won the lineout and drove at Hessle, who had to scramble to stop the rolling maul.

Hessle’s hard work paid off as Bridlington were deemed to have knocked the ball on as they neared the try line.

Action from Bridlington Marauders v Hessle Stags

Action from Bridlington Marauders v Hessle Stags

But Bridlington won the scrum against the head, setting up a good attacking platform for the backs.

Kemp threw a long pass to Nugent on the wing, who took two defenders with him as he scored his second try out wide, although this time the conversion was unsuccessful.

Bridlington found themselves on the back foot from the restart kick, allowing the ball to bounce, and the chasing Hessle forwards regained their kick off.

Picking and driving the forwards made good ground, before releasing the backs, but eventually a pass went loose, allowing Kemp to pick up the ball and kick to clear his line.

And Bridlington gave themselves a 17-point half-time lead when they scored their third try of the afternoon.

Another catch and drive from the lineout by the Bridlington pack, saw the backs released 10 metres from the lin. Kemp found Liam Sharples with a short pass, as he came on a diagonal run from deep, and his momentum carried him through two defenders to score Bridlington’s third try, again unconverted.

Hessle started the second half well, but were unable to get off the mark, and Bridlington went close to extending their lead with a move which started when Micheal Clayton set off on a great run from inside his own 22.

He was finally stopped just short of halfway, but captain Joe Franks was on hand to make a few metres, before a short pass put Tom Hodgson down the blind side. Jared Castle then made good ground, but Hessle were able to turn the ball over and clear to touch.

Finally, they got on the scoresheet, after winning a lineout and setting up a rolling maul. The forwards kept possession, and as they neared Bridlington’s 40 metre line, the outside centre crashed through a gap.

Clayton and Sharples teamed up to stop him, but this allowed him to offload in the tackle to put Hessle’ winger through, and a great run saw him crossed the line for a converted try.

The remainder of the match was a hard fought encounter by both teams, each able to string many phases together but neither able to convert their possession into points.

RFU officials Steve Watson congratulated both teams on the match before inviting colleague Tim Robinson to present the trophy to captain Joe Franks.