Bridlington Mariners’ season ended with heartbreak on Saturday as they lost by the narrowest of margins at Driffield Cents in the semi final of the Merit League.
The game was played in quite a strong wind blowing straight down the field and the home side played with the elements in the first period. This was going to give them quite an advantage so the Mariners’ game plan was to restrict the Cents to the minimum number of points and then use the advantage in the second period.
The first 20 minutes was quite a disappointing affair, littered with lots of mistakes, probably a result of the nervousness of the players as they knew what was at stake. Driffield tended to have the edge and the Mariners defence, which has been excellent all season was tested quite severely.
When Driffield attacked down the Mariners’ left, they managed to get a mis-match, a Brid prop defending against the home side’s full back. The Driffield player ran a great line and raced through a hole to score a converted try.
This was the only time in the half that the home side looked like they might score and so at 7-0 down at half time, the Mariners felt they had done a good job.
With the wind against them in the second period, the home side decided to run the ball at the Mariners more, But 15 minutes into the half, Brid started to gain the upper hand and from a strong run from number eight Tom Brown, the Cents infringed to give the Mariners a penalty. Scrum half Taylor Muru King hit an excellent kick to reduce the deficit.
Within 10 minutes Brid were within a point when Drifiield again infringed in their own half and Muru King hit another towering penalty.
The Mariners continued to put pressure on the home side and they continued to give away penalties. With 15 minutes to go Brid were awarded another penalty close to the touch line but Muru King’s nerve held as he hit another excellent kick to give the visitors the lead for the first time.
The Cents then increased their intensity as they saw the game slip away and with time almost up they got a break when stand off Jamie Muru kicked a long ball to the Driffield 22, which appeared to be played at by the home side’s wing and Bridlington felt they should have had a lineout.
But a Drifield player gathered the ball quickly and took a quick throw in, which the referee allowed to continue and the Cents moved the ball deep into the Brid half. The Mariners then gave away their only penalty of the half and the Drifield stand off hit a brilliant penalty against the strong wind.
As the game went into over time the Mariners worked the ball into the Driffield 22’ and induced a final penalty. This was probably the most difficult of the four kicks that Muru King faced, particularly with the game in the balance, and he missed the right upright by a foot.
The referee blew his whistle and the dream was over.