Bridlington RUFC 27
Stockton RUFC 22
BRIDLINGTON welcomed Stockton from the Durham Leagues for their first game in the National Intermediate Cup, aiming for a good win that would start them on the road to a potential Twickenham final.
Brid were determined to start well despite the heavy pitch and obvious size advantage of their opposition and straight from the kick off they were on the front foot hitting the contact area with force and moving the ball at pace.
Brid soon entered Stockton’s danger area 10 metres from the try line, putting together a number of well worked phases with excellent continuity and ball retention.
Stockton were struggling to cope with Brid’s intensity and were soon penalised for trying to slow the ball down at the ruck.
As the visitors prepared for what looked like an obvious three points for Brid veteran stand off Jamie Muru played a quick tap penalty, delightfully kicking the ball across field for winger Stevie Mellonby to catch and score without breaking his stride.
A moment of pure genius proving that class is permanent despite the advancing years.
This was the perfect start for Brid but one that only lasted five minutes once the big Stockton forwards began winning some possession.
A line out 15 metres from the Brid line was caught well by the Stockton forwards who easily mauled the ball over the line leaving the Brid forwards hopelessly trying to repel the attack.
The try was converted and despite Brid’s good start they were behind 7-5.
The rest of the half seemed to be a series of Brid attacks which ended with basic mistakes allowing Stockton to kick downfield and pressurise the Brid set piece.
Brid continued to press despite playing poorly and their powerful rucking and quick recycling of the ball was causing Stockton to infringe regularly.
The referee finally lost his patience after 20 minutes, yellow carding the Stockton second row after a number of continual offences when he refused to roll away from the tackle.
The extra man advantage did not improve Brid and it was Stockton who responded best, first missing a kickable penalty at goal before yet another powerful rolling maul and strong forward drive resulted in a try for their prop forward.
Brid were now rocked into action and began forcing Stockton back into their 22m looking to get back into the game with a score before half time.
Keeping the ball well Brid were stringing together a series of phases and now only five metres from the Stockton try line.
The visitors were getting desperate and throwing everything into defending their line but time and again this was the wrong side of the law and the referee remained strong after the fifth or sixth infringement by yellow carding the Stockton number eight for slowing the ball down in the ruck.
Opting not to go for the penalty kick at goal Brid took a quick tap and looked to press the Stockton try line again hoping the defence would break.
Looking like they had just about tied up all the visiting defenders a long pass was fired out to the wing but for the second week running an opposition player, this time the large Stockton centre, intercepted the pass and sprinted the full length of the pitch to score under the posts.
This was a massive blow for the home side, going into half time down 19-5 knowing this was a score line which they would struggle to come back from.
Harsh words were spoken from the Brid management team at half time and they started the second half in determined fashion but were dealt another blow when second row Micky Edmond was forced off with a badly dislocated finger, Gary Heeley coming on to replace him.
Brid were gradually getting back into the game with increased possession and this once again saw Stockton penalised for a professional foul which saw them receive their third yellow card with their number seven sent to the bin for 10 minutes.
Stockton were now really struggling to keep their discipline and things soon boiled over again when the Stockton winger was shown a straight red card for head butting.
Brid now sensed a possible come back of epic proportions and lifted their game, attacking Stockton at every opportunity and moving the ball wide at pace.
The breakthrough finally came from a line out 30 metres from the visitors’ line. Winning quick ball Brid scrum half Davies moved the ball to Muru who orchestrated a brilliant backs move which saw Kieran Lawry crash through the middle of the defence to race clear.
With one defender to beat he drew the man well before passing inside to Jimmy Baloyi supporting well. Baloyi sprinted towards the line but the covering defender sped across so he cleverly flicked the ball up for Will Davies to finish the move in style.
The conversion was slotted by Mellonby and the comeback was on.
Three minutes later Brid crossed again with Martin Robinson slicing through the defence from another good backs move, managing to evade the cover tacklers and stretching successfully for the try.
Mellonby converted well to pull the scores level at 19-19.
Stockton continued to push Brid back and were rewarded with a penalty which was converted to regain the lead. 22-19.
They then missed another chance to push further before Ali Sutton was replaced by Callum Yorke with 15 minutes left.
The crowd were well and truly on the edge of their seats urging Brid to find a winner which they did when some barnstorming running from the invigorated Brid pack saw Gary Heeley crash over for the winner.
Mellonby converted a last kick penalty which edged Brid to a deserved 27-22 win, in a game in which they looked dead and buried at half time but the resilience and commitment that was shown was magnificent. Bridlington now travel to Gosforth in Newcastle for the next match in the cup which could leave them two matches away from Twickenham.
Club sponsors: North Bay Caravan Park and Hudson Contract Services