Match Report - Bowdon 39 v 3 New Brighton
Another week, another try scoring bonus point win.
Bowdon returned home this week to face off against another Merseyside based squad in the form of New Brighton. And despite being hit with a few injuries and not being able to keep the same team for more than a week, confidence in the Bowdon camp was high with the squad looking strong and fit in a true show of the strength in depth currently at Bowdon.
The week prior to game had seen us doing conditioning sessions in Total Fitness, sprints up the ramps of a multi storey car park, and late night training under the floodlights of the University of Manchester Armitage centre. Before we knew it the weekend was upon us with a 13:30 meet although the majority of the team gathered early to get a coffee together and catch up.
Come 3pm kick-off saw Bowdon spring into action from the very start, pressure and pace forcing New Brighton to concede a string of penalties and causing the referee to issue the visitors 2 yellow cards within the first 10 minutes. Within seconds of the first sin bin we got a glimpse of the first of what would be many of Bowdon’s first half try’s with a work of art from a tap and go by the Bowdon 9 resulting in another penalty from which the forwards powered over leaving Hooker Dave Barker to claim the spoils. The conversion was missed, another windy day down the Clay again proving to be a nightmare for the Bowdon kicker Jonny Edwards.
As much as New Brighton battled to hold the line, with only 13 men on the pitch they were under a lot pressure and were constantly left open with plenty of space for the Bowdon backs to exploit. Centre Mitch McGrath was the next beneficiary on 12 minutes as he crossed the line for his third try in two games. The set up to McGraths try was a peace of magic from the forwards following a great break by Jamie Frost who popped the ball to the captain Neil Bright as they pounded their way towards the line.
Almost from the re-start things got even worse for NB as some more power running from Jamie Frost and pace from Dan Brown again saw the ball quickly recycled to Edwards who, with a quick step and a weave, released Mark Wells in for his first try of the season and Bowdon’s third of the match. Amazing especially considering this was Mark’s first game back from his badly broken ankle which he had sustained in this exact fixture last season!
With only fifteen minutes gone and already three tries behind you could see the New Brighton heads begin to go down. Bowdon were playing with a spring in their step that was fantastic to see and at last the Bowdon support were getting to see the kind of entertaining rugby they had missed in the first home game of the season. On 24 minutes Full Back Liam Connolly crossed to secure an early try scoring bonus point.
A half filled with exciting open rugby ended at 22-0 and having secured the bonus point it was perhaps slightly understandable that Bowdon would came out for the second half with slightly less intensity than they had opened the match. Half asleep they allowed New Brighton the sniff of a route back into the game as a few knock on’s and a couple of penalties resulted in NB splitting the posts with a 45m penalty making it 22-3. Thankfully this would serve as a wake-up call to the squad to up their levels and when they did, boy did they do it.
Within seconds of the ‘social media’ team commenting about the boys going to sleep and mild panic beginning to set in on the side lines Bowdon sprung back into action and through some good basic play forced a gap to allow Mike Waddington to capitalise and make it 27-3. Time to ring the changes and for Coach Murray to bring on fresh leg. Craig Mason making an immediate impact with a huge tackle on his opposite number, more proof that every player in a Bowdon shirt was playing with their heart and for the badge with something to prove. It was a joy to watch.
The next 10 minutes saw NB trying to break lines but with the Bowdon defence holding strong they were forced into trying different things to try to prise the opening. Their eventual use of the cross field kick being nullified by the Bowdon wingers who rapidly tracked back and had everything covered. With the Bowdon defence way too strong for the visitors and, at the same time, Bowdon always finding a way through there was always going to be more scores in the game and in the last eight minutes some more silky play from Edwards put in Captain Bright who, with Tom Gumulko on the wing screaming for the ball, decided he wasn’t needed as he stepped and weaved his way past the cover to dot down. The afternoons scoring was finished off by Liam Connolly crossing to collect his brace and the game ending with seven tries at 39-3.
This 5 point win sees Bowdon go joint 2nd in the league, a place they hope they keep as we head into the remainder of the season.
It had been a fantastic game where every player had made an impact constantly gaining ground throughout and putting us on the front foot. Back Rows Jamie Frost, Mike Waddington and Greg Jacob all led with high tackle and break counts. Backs Liam Connolly, Andre Hechter, Mark Wells, Mitch McGrath and Jonny Edwards made full use of the space gaining yardage and the engine room boys Craig Anthony, Dave Barker and Lewis Kitchener and Dan Brown put in an almost faultless afternoon in the set piece. It could be argued this was Bowdon’s best game to date if it wasn’t for the drop in energy for the first half of the second part of the game, but the team on the whole were fantastic and we can truly say it’s starting to come together.
Following the game Captain Neil Bright had this to say when asked how it felt to get over the line and his view on the overall performance?
“It’s always good to score although it was more about the dummy pass than the actual try as its rare if ever I pull something like that off, but as for the performance I felt we did well, again we could get better as they is always room for improvement but all in all it was a good performance and to take another bonus point is something the team can be proud off.”
We head into next week confident but with a tough week training ahead and with Bibby and Brown (although following his Head Injury looks to be out again) back in and with a host of other injured players back fit it looks set to be a nightmare for the Bowdon staff to make a selection but also exciting that we have such strength in depth.
With Craig Monaghan and James Dennis’s treatment heading in the right direction thanks to Beth (Physio) and with them looking set to make their return in the next 2 weeks things are only going to get more competitive for the shirt.
Match report provided by Craig Monaghan