4th August 2007, 16:14
2007 Grand Final - Bridgend 24 Newport Titans 18
In a tense but thrilling match on a greasy Brewery Field pitch...
In a tense but thrilling match on a greasy Brewery Field pitch, Bridgend Blue Bulls won the best Welsh Grand Final in three years to clinch their fifth successive title, beating Newport Titans 24-18.
Bridgend now go on to face the South of England champions in three weeks time in the National Conference Premier semi-finals.
The Titans had the best of the first quarter of the game and were unlucky not to have more tries on the board before the interval. They fought hard throughout but Bridgend's class eventually showed and the one-try difference was a fair reflection.
Newport took the lead on five minutes following a scrum on Bridgend's ten metre line when Tyrone Mahoney ran in under the sticks. Lloyd White converted.
There could have been a second try five minutes later but Ben Morris, who would have had a clear run to the line, fumbled Culverwell's offload.
Newport also had a try ruled out. Vinnie Lott made the metres with Sam McCoy diving over but the referee blew for offside.
Bridgend finally started attacking midway through the first half and after forcing a second set of six, they levelled things on 25 minutes when Dan Williams forced his way under the sticks. Gareth David easily kicked the extras.
They took the lead on 32 minutes when Neil Dixon, who stood in successfully for Tony Duggan at Celtic Crusaders for a few matches last year, broke through the defence Duggan-style and grounded under the sticks. David's kick made it 12-6.
Newport fought hard to equalise before the interval but were just ten metres from the line when the hooter sounded so went in to the dressing rooms six points down.
Marc Davies dropped a high bomb on his own ten metre line giving the Titans an early chance to score. But on the third tackle, Marc Davies intercepted a stray pass leading to a third Bridgend try. Matthew Morgan ran 40 metres and fed Gareth David who ran under the sticks converting it himself.
An excellent individual Craig Fox effort was ruled out as he was judged to have been prevented from grounding the ball when he chased his own chip but Bridgend did take a 24-6 on 54 minutes when Tevita Manaseitava fed Arran Warner who ran home. David converted.
But Newport pulled a try back straight from kick-off when Lloyd White ran over the line from close range and kicked the goal for good measure.
The Titans kept attacking and were rewarded with a further try. Lenny Woodard was penalised for being offside when he intercepted a Newport pass, and from the scrum, Tyrone Mahoney ran over for his second of the game. White's kick brought the score back to 24-18.
The last ten minutes was full of completed sets, excellent defensive work and many big hits that enthralled the large Brewery Field crowd. Lott was close to potentially levelling things for Newport but he fumbled and Karl Hocking caught the loose ball.
Man of the match was Newport Titans' Lloyd White and although he was happy with his personal performance, he was disappointed to finish on the losing side.
"The result was a bit gutting but I think we all played well," he said. "We worked really hard right up until the end and there wasn't much more that we could do. We just made a few unfortunate mistakes on their line."
Blue Bulls' team manager Simon Green said: "I'm delighted with our fifth title in a row. We deserve it for all the hard work the players put in all season and I'm sure Newport have done just the same. It was a good final that could have gone either way and their guy deserved the man of the match.
"We're now looking forward to facing the South of England champions in three weeks time. We lost to South London Storm last year and beat them two years ago to go on to win the title. We won the National Title in 2003 and 2005. Hopefully, the two year gap will stay the same and we'll win it again in 2007."
BRIDGEND BLUE BULLS
1. Marc Davies
2. Lenny Woodard
3. Christiaan Roets
4. Geraint Lewis
5. Paul Morgan
6. Gareth David
7. Neil Dixon
8. Jon Purnell
9. Dan Williams
10. Antony Isaac
11. Ross Megraw
12. Karl Hocking
13. Simon Mustoe
Subs: Craig Fox, Aaran Warner, Tevita Manaseitava, Matthew Morgan,Carle Ellis
Tries: Williams (25), Dixon (32), David (43), Warner (54)
Goals: David 4/4
1. Scott Bessant
2. Sam McCoy
3. Martin Cawley
4. Ross Palmer
5. Lewis Culverwell
6. Lloyd White
7. Ben Morris
8. Mark Wheeler
9. Tyrone Mahoney
10. Vinnie Lott
11. John Bowd
12. Chris Vitalini
13. Barrie Phillips
Subs: Lewis Fox, Dai Pugsley,Shane Reagan, Damien Hudd, Ryan Fenton
Tries: Mahoney (5,62), White (57)
Goals: White 3/3
Referee: Ritchie Rees
Men of the Match: Blue Bulls - Gareth David, Titans - Lloyd White
Scoring Sequence: 0-6, 6-6, 12-6, 18-6, 24-6, 24-12, 24-18
Gamestar: Lloyd White from Newport. Despite finishing as a runner-up, he made some fine breaks, scored an excellent try and kicked well.
Gamebreaker: Bridgend's defending in the last five minutes that kept Newport out and prevented them from scoring what would have been a deserved leveller.