CLEVE fought off a strong comeback to earn a hard-fought win over Bridgwater Albion.
With an expansive, attacking attitude, Cleve dominated the start of the game and a clever chip kick over the oncoming Bridgwater backs, saw Liam Clode gather the ball and score under the posts. Dave Thomas converted to make it 7-0 Cleve after just three minutes.
Cleve forwards were beginning to work well, and Miles Avery was lifted in a lineout in Bridgwater’s 22, setting up a catch and drive.
The ball went into a ruck but came out quickly to Liam Clode, who went through and scored close to the touch line to make it 12-0.
Cleve were on top and won a penalty as they drove towards the Bridgwater line again, which Liam Clode kicked to make it 15-0.
Bridgwater started to come back into their own, and their lively winger kicked through, won the chase and scored in what was becoming an end-to-end game.
Cleve drove forward, with Mitch Avery showing some great footwork before the ball went into a ruck and a great pass by Will Warman found Theo Garnett on the wing, who went over to make it 20-7 to Cleve.
A pattern of great service by Will Warman and good balls from the lineouts helped Cleve time and time again.
Bridgwater started a comeback and while some great defence kept them from scoring during a period of sustained pressure on Cleve’s line, a rare error in the backs saw one of the opposing centres score to make it 20-12.
In the last five minutes Cleve number 8 Miles Avery made a break into the Bridgwater’s 22 from a lineout close to their attacking try line, giving a great inside pass to Liam Clode, who went over again for a converted try to make it 27-12.
But Bridgwater came back strongly again, powering down towards Cleve’s line and scoring two tries in quick succession, one of which was converted.
Cleve now had to dig in and work hard for their win, and this is what they did to seal a great victory, 27-24.
Afterwards veteran Cleve player John Bradbeer said it had been the best game he had seen this season, a view echoed by many in the crowd.
Both sets of players had refreshments and got involved in games in the clubhouse – a good sign of rugby camaraderie.
Liam Clode was given man of the match by club member and player sponsor Mastic.