Battling Bridgnorth bag a last-gasp win
Director of rugby Dan Griffiths saluted Bridgnorth’s spirit after the holders left it late to claim victory over rivals Newport in the North Midlands Cup.
Will Bishop’s try, the final play of the match, earned the All Blacks a 22-20 win to set-up a semi-final showdown with Dudley Kingswinford, a repeat of last year’s final.
Bridgnorth appeared to be cruising when they led 14-3 at the break, but Newport fought back and stood just seconds from victory before Bishop crossed in the corner.
Griffiths said: “There is no sweeter way to win a game, particularly a local derby.
“Credit to Newport. They had a gameplan and they executed it well in the second half.
“But our lads kept working hard and eventually we were able to sneak over the line.”
Newport were the first team to get on the scoreboard courtesy of a Benny Elliott penalty, but two converted George Newman tries had the hosts in the ascendency at half-time.
But the visitors began their comeback when Sam Brown touched down for their first try of the afternoon and after Bridgnorth had kicked another penalty, Elliott set up Matt Dight to level the scores at 17-17.
Elliott then held his nerve to kick the penalty which put Newport in front with six minutes remaining and within touching distance of a first win over the All Blacks in four attempts.
The final word, however, went to Bridgnorth and Bishop, who went over in the corner after a scrum penalty had set up the winning move.
Victory extended the home side’s unbeaten run in all competitions to 10 matches.
“That was probably the best Newport have played against us in any of our recent meetings,” said Griffiths.
“Both teams played some good rugby through the 80 minutes. They got on top in the second half and we committed a few errors.
“It was an important win for us in several respects. Obviously we are the current holders of the cup and we want to have a decent crack at defending it this year.
“But it also ensured our unbeaten run continued and we feel like we currently have a lot of momentum. There were some really good performances from players given their chance on Saturday.”