Yorkshire Shield semi final
BRIDLINGTON returned to Pontefract, a week after a heavy defeat to them in the league, to face them in the semi final of the Yorkshire Shield.
With injured players returning, each position had a number of possibilities, making selection very difficult indeed.
The weather had improved slightly from the previous week, but the ground was very wet from heavy rain leading up to matchday.
Bridlington kicked off the match long into the Pontefract 22 metre area. With the first player missing the ball, they had to work quickly to secure the ball.
Once secured they returned to the pick and drive routine that they had used the week before, but this time Bridlington were ready for them, chopping them down as soon as they picked up the ball.
They continued, and it was a good 20-or-so phases before they got the chance to make a 10 metre break, but the Bridlington pack were quickly there to stop them.
Another pick and drive followed, but this time Mark Oliver kept his man up, and with his pack behind him they drove forward, winning a scrum.
James Thompson picked up from the base of the scrum, making a 10 metre run. The visitors then pounded the defence using both forwards and backs until the referee awarded them a penalty just inside the 22, which Jamie Muru gratefully kicked successfully at goal.
Pontefract enjoyed some possession for a while as they made slow progress up the park, aided by penalties given by the referee.
But Bridlington worked well as a team thwarting each and every attempt to close to their line. Gareth Roberts managed to get hold of the ball kicking to touch, but caught by the wind it rolled into the try area, and was touched down for a 22 dropout by the home side.
They sent a long kick down field to clear their lines, but Ryan Girking was there to gather the ball. He pinned his ears back running back at pace down the touch line, passing to Thompson as he reached the forwards.
Bridlington then used the pick and drive to get to within five metres of the try line.
The referee showed a yellow card to the Pontefract prop, and Muru kicked into touch for a 5 metre lineout.
Pontefract won the lineout, again they worked their way out slowly, despite good tackling by Adam Dixon and Mark Floyd, but Bridlington gave away a penalty.
Pontefract trie to break out again following a lineout, but this time Gary Heeley and Paddy Waines halted their advance.
An intervention by the touch judge saw Bridlington awarded a penalty, which was kicked for a lineout 15 metres from the line.
Pontefract won the lineout again, but this time they were stopped by Wiremu Cookson.
The backs were released to attack, but the ball was lost forward.
Stevie Mellonby picked up the loose ball and fed Ryan Girking at pace, and he delayed his pass to find Sizwe Zondo, who made his way through to score a converted try, out by the corner flag.
Possession of the ball, then passed back and forth between the teams as each battled for the upper hand.
Kieran Lawry was stopped five metres short of the line, but Pontefract were able to stop the attack and mount one of their own.
Following a great tackle by Heeley, the visitors were again on the front foot, great passing and running by the back line saw Ryan Girking cross the line to score a converted try.
The restart kick was caught by Heeley at pace as he raced out from his 22.
The forwards secured the ball for Lawry to kick upfield, and the Pontefract full back linked with his winger to attack but he knocked the ball on as he got it back.
Bridlington’s forwards picked and drove again, before releasing the backs, quick hands by Mellonby and Muru allowed Girking to score another converted try. The referee ended the half following the conversion kick.
Pontefract started the second half, kicking deep into Bridlington’s 22, but they were met by great play by the forwards again, although it was short lived as the referee gave a penalty to the home side.
The kick to touch was caught by Mellonby, he put up a high ball, and chased it himself, putting pressure on the hooker who knocked the ball on as he tried to catch it.
Muru threw a wide pass to Zondo, and the forwards again set up a good platform for Muru to kick.
It was chased by Roberts who was able to gather the ball, 30 metres from the try line, then they ran through the defence to score another try.
Pontefract began to string phases together as they made their way up the field, and Bridlington had to dig in five metres from their line, defending against wave after wave of punishment by the opposition forwards.
The pressure finally paid off for Pontefract as they were able to cross the line for a converted try.
A lineout shortly after the restart, saw Waines making a good run supported by the forwards.
Muru organised his troops before Lawry was able to make a run, offloading to Danny Perkin as the forwards secured the ball.
Bridlington made their way up the park again, getting within five metres of the line, before the referee awarded Pontefract a penalty to clear their line.
It was not long before Bridlington were on the attack again, winning a penalty just outside the 22, which Muru kicked successfully at goal.
Bridlington made a couple of changes before the restart, Ali Sutton on for Gary Heeley, then Morgan Kinnaird on for Adam Dixon.
Pontefract got the upper hand again for a while, but then when they kicked through the defence, the ball rolled over the try line.
Zondo picked the ball up, but rather than place it down for a drop out, he dummied the two attackers then raced out from behind his own line, making 10 metres before being stopped.
From a quickly taken Pontefract penalty, the ball was fed to the flanker to attack, but he was easily stopped as he ran straight at Kinnaird and Oliver.
The hosts quickly recycled the ball, then got tackled by Waines and Thompson, before play was stopped following the ruck as the referee showed two red cards, one for stamping and the other for retaliation.
Bridlington made another change, Martin Robinson on for Stevie Mellonby, and were able to clear their lines for a while with a kick up field, but Pontefract gathered the ball and came back at them.
Bridlington then lost Girking to a yellow card for a high tackle.
However, the player was already falling to ground following an ankle tap, and so was dipping into the tackle, meaning it was a harsh decision by the referee.
Bridlington got some respite as the flanker lost the ball forward, running from the lineout, and Zondo and Roberts ran the ball out, as far as the 40 metre line, the ball going out of play for a lineout.
Bridlington made their final replacement, bringing on Tom Kemp for Jamie Muru, but quick hands by the number eight, to the scrum half, led to a wide pass to the winger to dive over for the last score of the match.
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