Mariners avenge play-off defeat

Bridlington Mariners 15 Driffield Cents 0
Bridlington Mariners 15 Driffield Cents 0

In a repeat of the semi-final from last season’s Merit League play-off game, the Mariners exacted some revenge for that narrow defeat with a comfortable win.

For an hour this was a game that will not live long in the memory, mainly due to the official who constantly blew his whistle for numerous offences and so neither side could gain any sort of rhythm.

The game therefore became a succession of set pieces, either line outs but mainly scrums, interspersed with a little rugby.

Driffield never looked like crossing the whitewash as the Mariners defence came to the fore once again, as it has done for much of the season.

However, the Mariners were giving away a fair share of penalties and the visitors had a couple of chances to take the lead but fortunately for the home side the Driffield stand off didn’t bring his kicking boots with him.

Finally, the deadlook was broken in the third quarter and it came on the back of some good pressure by the Mariners forwards. The Cents infringed, allowing full back Stevie Mellonby to strike a good penalty.

The Mariners forwards started to gain the upper hand and some strong driving runs in midfield by centres Rob Medforth, Scott Stevens and replacement Joe Stevenson gave the Mariners some go forward.

The Brid pack then took up the baton and further strong runs from second rowers Mark Shackley, Dewi Roberts and number eight and captain Tom Brown punched more holes in the Driffield defence.

As the pressure mounted on the Driffield defence, it was only time before the Mariners would extend their lead.

With play 30 metres from the Driffield line, Brown picked from a ruck and fed debutant Michael Nugent, playing out of position on the wing.

Nugent raced along the wing then cut inside two defenders and looked like he might get over. However, he was stopped just short of the line but he managed to offload to scrum half Tom Wilson, excellently up in support, and he crossed for a thrilling try.

Mellonby added a great conversion and the Mariners had breathing space at 10-0.

With the game coming to a close, Driffield threw caution to the wind to try to get back in the game but only a couple of times did they get into the Brid 22 metre area as the Mariners defence continued to remain resolute.

Mellonby capped off an excellent game with a typical virtuoso try racing fully 50 metres and skipping past a number of would-be tacklers to score a brilliant individual try.

He must have exerted himself too much because he was wide with his conversion attempt and Brid completed a deserved 15-0 win.

Prior to the game the Mariners had lost a number of players to call ups to the first team, injury or unavailability but this gave other players there chance to prove a point.

Nugent was one but second row Arron Baker was another and he showed up well until he gained an injury and had to come off.

The make shift front row of Jayson Stephenson, Danny Palmer and third team captain Adam McTurk more than coped with a strong Driffield front three and when replacement Josh Symonds entered the fray, he performed well out of position at hooker.

Stand off Jamie Muru is definitely in the veteran stage of his playing career but rolled back the years with a virtuoso display of kicking and running play which was a joy to watch. Moreover he orchestrated much of the play which definitely helped the young players in the team.

There are still areas for improvement which will only come if more players can make it to training but there are definitely signs that the side can reach the heights of last year and the competition for places can only be good.

No man of the match award was made because this was a complete team performance.

The Mariners have a tough assignment next week away at York.