TIM Comben crowned his 300th appearance for Weymouth & Portland with a try as the Seahorses defeated neighbours Bridport 33-18 at Monmouth Avenue.

Prop forward Comben led out his teammates for his milestone game, which was in doubt after the designated referee dropped out due to Covid-19.

Luckily, veteran referee Ken Pipe was in attendance and stepped in to officiate the Tribute Dorset & Wilts One South clash.

Weymouth & Portland had to field a number of forwards in the back line due to a spate of injuries and Bridport quickly built up a 15-0 lead.

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Coming into this game, the Blues had won five of their six games in 2022 and the confidence taken from a string of good results was clear to see.

Mitch Waters put Bridport in front, scoring a try from a quick tap penalty and the Blues scored again from the restart as Dan Butler claimed possession.

Spinning the ball through the hands of Daragh McLoughlin and Waters, Bridport opened the gate for Jed Gravelle to cross the whitewash, Waters unable to convert.

After a series of scrums, Bridport forced the penalty and Sam Petchey kicked for touch before the Blues won a line-out and supplied Gravelle who made a stunning break for his second try.

With Waters off target, the Seahorses knew two scores would keep them in contention and the hosts duly began to creep back into the contest.

On 35 minutes, Weymouth scored their first try as Ben Davies utilised the overlap before a Bridport penalty made it 18-5.

But seconds before half-time, Argentine forward Facundo Patsouris-Belcuore ran in from the halfway line after quick ball, Hamish Jeffcott converting.

Patsouris-Belcuore’s try ignited a superb comeback from the Seahorses, who began to use their forwards to devastating effect.

Comben proved unstoppable from a driving maul and winger Finn Pitman then crossed over in the corner for 26-18.

Bridport were unlucky to see a kick forward bounce unkindly for their chasing pack with a try there for the taking but the Seahorses finished off the win as centre Joe Gibson capitalised on a ruck to score, Jeffcott converting.

Speaking to Echosport, home coach Rich Bament paid credit to Comben after his landmark match.

He said: “He’s Weymouth through and through, will do anything for anybody and this year he’s bringing his game on more and more.

“He’s always looking to improve, always encouraging players and wants to play rugby. At the same time, he’s a good guy to have around the squad.

“He’s got himself really fit and he knows he doesn’t have to do everything. When he does have the ball in hand, he’s making an impact and reading the game a lot better.

“He’s added another dimension to his game. Before, he was a target man and he can make inroads. Now, because of the way we play he’s not always the first receiver.

“So, when he does come on to the ball he makes a bigger impact.”

On the team performance, Bament added: “It was a nightmare with injuries and unavailabilities. I had 12 of my regular lot out.

“It was a team full of forwards that did themselves proud. Looking at their recent form and the way they started going 15-0 up, I thought this was going to be a long afternoon.

“But we got ourselves back in with a try which gave us hope. What was really pleasing was right on half-time we scored a 70-metre try.

“To only turn around six points down was very pleasing. We had a chat at half-time, put in a few tweaks, be more abrasive in what we were doing and it paid dividends in the end.”

Weymouth & Portland next host East Dorset Dockers on Saturday in their penultimate game of the season.

Bament said: “You never really know what you’re going to get from them.

“They’ll always be abrasive and there will be a lot of chat from them during the game, there always is – trying to get inside our heads.

“The game against Bridport showed another dimension to us that if we all pull in one direction we can win the game.

“We’ll get a good crowd down there and I’m sure we’ll give them something to cheer about come the final whistle.”

Craig Barter and Ryan Lewendon (finger) is out for the season, while Matt Savage (shoulder), Jacob Cummings and Luke Beynon (calf) are doubtful.