Bridlington Mariners completed their league season on Saturday with a trip to Hullensians Hawks in a game that had originally been abandoned because of the weather.
With a number of players missing through unavailability, work commitments or promotion to the first team, the visitors were always going to have a fight against a team who are always strong at home.
The first half proved to be an even affair although the Mariners controlled the game with some disciplined defence and strong running in the forwards. However, it was the home side who took the lead on 20 minutes and against the run of play.
The Mariners forwards had the ball in the home side’s half. Unfortunately, they lost the ball in the ruck and as it squirted out on to the Hullensians’ side, their scrum half picked up. He then stepped a couple of Mariners tacklers and set off on a mazy run that took him all the way to the line for an excellent solo try. The easy conversion made it 7-0 to the home side.
The Mariners didn’t panic and continued to hold the advantage and gradually made their way back into the game. Ten minutes later they had worked their way close to the home side’s line. The home side gave away a penalty in front of the post and stand in kicker Tom Brown hit a good penalty.
With the half coming to a close Brid reduced the lead to one point when the Hawks again infringed under pressure in front of the posts and Brown added a second penalty.
The Mariners finished the half much the stronger team and the pressure told when good work in both the forwards and backs saw them cross the line in the corner, second row Micky Edmond claiming the try. Half time vame with Bridlington ahead 11-7.
The second period saw the home side grow in confidence and as their pack started to exert a lot more pressure on the Mariners’ pack, particularly in the set piece they worked hard to gain a win.
Before Christmas, the Mariners might have crumbled under the pressure and have lost this game but the growing self-belief and confidence within the whole team meant that they were determined to hold on for the win.
The Mariners got close to scoring on a few occasions, notably when hooker Louis Cunliffe went over after a rolling maul, but the referee brought play back for a penalty to Brid.
The Hawks did reduce the deficit to one point midway through the second period with a penalty and the last 10 minutes seemed to take an age to go by as the home side went for the win but the Mariners’ strong defence held out.
This was probably the worst performance the Mariners have put on over the last few months but a win is a win.
The pack came under tremendous pressure in the second half and they dug deep to contain the Hawks. In the backs, stand-in stand-off Scott Stevens and centre Joe Stephenson, who was man of the match, stood out notably in defence.
If the Mariners beat Driffield in this week’s semi-final, they will play the winners of the Scunthorpe v BP tie.
Pictures from Hullensians v Mariners on page 69