'Bridge Struggle to Bounce Back at New Ash Green
A lethargic 'Bridge team failed to hold back a spirited New Ash Green side in their second defeat of the season
After the narrow but decisive defeat at Sheppey last week, 'Bridge were hoping to come back fighting and score a strong win against New Ash Green. But after a couple of late drop outs, including captain and kicker Lee Roberts, 'Bridge found themselves struggling against an eager and energetic team where a lack of defensive form and a lethargic approach to attack ultimately saw them bow out to a 38-24 defeat.
With the absence of the 'Bridge captain, Nick Horner led the side out at Punch Croft with Rob Mitchell taking on the kicking duties for the away side.
As with many of the matches played this season, 'Bridge took a while to get into the swing of play, with New Ash Green scoring an easy try when the centre skipped through the defensive lines in the third minute. With the try converted, Bridge found themselves 7-0 down in the first five minutes of play.
But, despite some slow play and fumbles with the ball, 'Bridge were back in the game a few minutes later with a great try from Rob Mitchell who followed it up with a beautifully slotted effort to bring the score back level.
In a characteristic 'Bridge comeback, the team were back inside the home team's half straight away when a grubber kick bounced past the defenders, over the try-line and towards the dead ball line. Despite a valiant chase by Dan Rowland - and a failed grounding by the New Ash Green defence - there was a moment of confusion when it seemed that 'Bridge had gone ahead before the referee finally called no try. A few minutes later 'Bridge made their efforts good as Adam Bright powered over the line to put 'Bridge 7-12 ahead.
If 'Bridge were looking for this to be the beginning of a strong win as had happened in so many games earlier in the season, they were disappointed. Good passing movement and strong scrummaging from New Ash Green had 'Bridge on the back foot for much of the rest of the match. New Ash Green threatened to overlap the slow 'Bridge defensive line several times inside the visitor's 22 before their centres broke through the line for a converted try to leave 'Bridge trailing 14-12.
Five minutes later the home team scored again as good passing and strong runs led to the ball being planted over the try line.
With the score at 19-12, 'Bridge seemed to find their feet again and began to hit back harder against the New Ash Green side. Great hits from the forwards and some strong runs from Sam Tan and Craig Decoteau saw the team press the home side hard despite some changes due to injuries, but with no sign of a score as the half drew to a close.
The Edenbridge team that started the second half seemed to be much stronger and more fluid. Some great passing and supporting play across the field saw Dan Rowland finally get his try and another Rob Mitchell conversion saw the away side draw level.
But this flurry of great play was to be short lived. For the majority of the second half, play seemed to camped inside 'Bridge's half. With the team pinned down, a number of Edenbridge kicks were let loose to break the opponent lines, but the chasers were unable to take advantage and any ground made was quickly lost.
Two New Ash Green tries from powerful forwards and quick backs saw the score brought to 38-19 with five minutes to go, and the game looked all but over. But - much like in the game against Sheppey - 'Bridge had one last effort to give, and a great run of passing play saw Lewis Bowen over the line with the final whistle blown at 38-24.
Despite the loss, 'Bridge have a lot to take away from this match that saw a well-deserved win for the New Ash Green side. The team will want to regroup over the week to be ready for the VP lunch and what may be a very important Tunbridge Wells game.
Many thanks to New Ash Green for their hospitality and for providing a challenging and humbling opposition. We look forward to welcoming you to the Rec later on in the season.
Tries: Rob Mitchell, Adam Bright, Dan Rowland, Lewis Bowen
Conversions: Rob Mitchell (2)
MOTM: Adam Bright