TWICKENHAM: A display the town should be proud of

Sizwe Zondo scores his second try
Sizwe Zondo scores his second try

The disappointment of defeat was overtaken by the pride in being the first Bridlington team to play at Twickenham.

Bridlington may have lost the National Intermediate Cup final at the home of rugby on Saturday, but their fighting spirit and never-say-die attitude won them many friends.

Brighton Blues went home with the trophy, after winning 30-22, but the Bridlington squad, officials and supporters went home with memories of a fantastic day and a tremendous effort.

The game was decided in the opening 20 minutes, as Brighton streaked into a 20-0 lead, but a gutsy fightback was led by the impressive Sizwe Zondo, who scored two tries and was a menace to the Sussex side all afternoon.

Sadly, Bridlington couldn’t quite close the gap, but director of rugby Richard Girking was proud of his team’s performance on the big stage.

He said: “I thought the lads were fantastic and played really, really well. Brighton admitted after the game we had given them a big scare.

“Twickenham certainly knew that Bridlington had been there, because we were singing in the bar afterwards and really enjoying ourselves, like we always do.

“We didn’t let ourselves down. I was determined to get all 22 members of the squad out on the pitch and I am very, very proud of them all.”

Hundreds of supporters cheered the team on, all proudly wearing navy blue and amber rosettes.

Chairman Gordy Morrice added: ”It was an incredible day, a fabulous experience for everyone. I’ve been to Twickenham with a full house of 80,000 people but even with only a fraction of that on Saturday, I thought the noise was tremendous.

“I was astounded by the number of people who came down to support us, it was more than we had imagined. We even had John Dazley, who captained the club in the early 1990s, who flew in from New Zealand, because he felt he just couldn’t miss it.

“Of course we would have liked to win, but it has bonded the club together, bringing together the players, supporters and the social members.

“The lads know they lost the game in the first 20 minutes, but Bridlington always do well in the second half and I wondered if we could come back like we had at Coalville in the semi-finals.

“But Brighton were the best side we have played all season. They would have won our Yorkshire One League. They were very, very well-coached and they looked the part. They even had a Cyprus international.”

“After the game, our president Ernie Cooper gave the speech of the day. It was unbelieveable. We were nearly all in tears after his off-the-cuff speech about the spirit of the game. It was from the heart.”

After Twickenham comes the not-quite-so glamorous surroundings of Knottingley this Saturday, but the game is still important. If Bridlington beat their hosts, Knottingley will be relegated, but a win would see them survive.