Bridlington Mariners followed up their impressive home win over BP Chemicals last week with another great display against top-of-the-table Medics at Hull University.
Preparations were far from ideal, as once players had found the correct changing room, one of eight, collected all their belongings and made a half-mile walk to the pitch, it left only 20 minutes for the warm up.
Therefore, it was impressive that the Mariners’ forwards took the advantage over their opposite numbers right from the off.
The Medics, being a university side, are young, fit and enthusiastic and carry players who play for the first team at the university. They are not so strong in the forwards but like to move the ball out wide to their naturally attacking backs and their success for the season is clearly based on this and some excellent defence.
The Mariners’ game plan was to impose themselves on the home side with robust work around the rucks and mauls and by utilising the bigger more physical pack to continue to run at the defensive line and this they did well for much of the first period.
The back row of Tom Brown, Ben Sutton and Callum Sanderson often carried the ball well, getting the Mariners over the gain line, ably assisted by front row Louis Cunliffe, Adam McTurk and second rowers Mark Floyd and Micky Edmond.
On a mild day, coach Steve Manton rang the changes often in an attempt to keep them fresh and when the likes of Tom Hodgson, Mark Shackley, Jayson Stephenson and Ben Lawry entered the fray, they carried on the good work.
Making his debut at scrum half, Otis Floyd commanded the forwards well and gave good quick service to his half-back partners of Jamie Muru and Taylah Muru-King.
Credit must also go to the outside backs of Mark Chapman, Joe Stephenson, Scott Stevens and Rob Medforth who negated the clear threat of the Medics offensive line.
The Mariners had the edge for much of the first period and, but for a few silly penalties, might have scored more than the one try.
This came midway through the period. First, Muru put a great kick behind the Medics right winger into the corner and all he could do was carry the ball over the line and touch down.
From the resultant scrum, the Brid pack got the shove on and drove the ball over the line for number eight Sanderson to score doing well to control the ball at the base of the scrum.
Muru-King converted well and the Mariners took a half time lead of 7-0.
In the second period, the Brid pack became even more dominant, often pushing the Medics pack back at scrum time and winning good ball at the line out.
However, while on the attack in the home side’s 22, they gave away a penalty which the Medics tapped quickly.The Mariners went to sleep a little and the Medics second row raced 50 metres to score a great individual try and bring the score to 7-5.
The visitors continued to have the upper hand but while the scores were so close the Medics were always going to be dangerous.
With 15 minutes to go Joe Stephenson settled the nerves with a good try. The pack had carried the ball within 10 metres of the line and the backs moved the ball out wide but Stephenson still had to beat two players to finish well.
Muru was close with the attempted conversion.
The Medics tried to steal the game late on but the visitors were not to be denied and gained a well deserved 12-5 victory.
The Mariners’ dream of reaching the play offs is still alive and more performances like this should see them through. The spirit in the camp is sky high and all 22 players are making valuable contributions to the winning of the games.
It was a tough call to single out a man of the match but young Sanderson’s work rate and carries stood out.
The Mariners do it all again next week when they play the other Hull university team at the same venue