WEYMOUTH & PORTLAND 18

BRIDPORT 7

WEYMOUTH & Portland opened their 2019 account with an attritional 18-7 win over rivals Bridport in their Wadworth 6X Dorset & Wilts One South derby at Monmouth Avenue.

The Seahorses collected their second successive win having beaten Wimborne Seconds 13-3 in another low-scoring affair before Christmas.

Bridport’s afternoon was further soured as captain Daragh McLoughlin and scrum-half Lou Gurn sustained serious knee injuries.

Weymouth surged into an early 6-0 lead as Alex Toms converted two penalties before the Seahorses conceded the first try of the game.

Against the run of play, Harrison Crane collected a clearance and embarked on a powerful run through the hosts’ defence before offloading to the supporting Ellis Blackburn who ran in to score.

Mitch Waters then added the conversion as the Blues established a 7-6 lead at half-time in a game so far dominated by strong play from both packs.

Disaster struck for the Blues from the restart as no Bridport player took the responsibility of catching the kick-off, allowing debutant Harry Bochio to gather and supply Jason Hoskins to score in the corner on his first start for the club.

Toms was unable to add the extras from out wide as Weymouth took an 11-7 lead.

Bridport piled on the pressure in response, earning two penalties, but Waters could not capitalise and twice missed.

Dave Cutting, playing as a winger, nearly drove over following a maul before fly-half Toms was carded for a ruck infringement.

Weymouth again held firm for the next 10 minutes and the home side were rewarded for stout defence when Bochio, playing a starring role, started the next move.

In the second phase, scrum-half Lewis Allan span the ball to Andy Bowditch, later sin-binned himself, who scored a converted try from 10 metres out, completing the scoring and denying Bridport a bonus point.

Speaking to Echosport, Weymouth co-coach Simon Litster admitted the victory had been “ground out”.

He said: “It was a pretty dour affair with a forward battle, mainly. Bridport tried to run the ball more than we did.

“The first half was scrappy, we struggled in the forwards and missed Tim Comben. We brought on Harry for his debut – he used to play at Swanage & Wareham – at number eight then reconfigured the pack.

“It was a hard, ground out victory – the lads were relieved. Man-of-the-match was Jason, he scored a good try, made a lot of good tackles, credit to him.”

“The Christmas excesses told on the team, they were sluggish. Nobody seemed to be playing with a lot of verve and energy.

“James Cooper came on for the last 20 minutes and handled himself very well – a very good flanker.”