IT was the Matt Bridge Master Class as the Wingham five-eighth spearheaded the Tigers to a commanding 42-18 win over Taree City in the Group Three Rugby League game at the Wingham Sporting Complex.
Bridge dominated the 80 minutes, scoring a try and playing a leading role in four others. For good measure he also kicked five goals. His passing game was first class, whether they be short balls to send supports careering through gaps or longer efforts to find outside players in space. He toyed with the Taree defence and on that performance, he's unlucky not to be wearing the number six shirt for Group Three in next Saturday's clash against Group Two, although he is on the bench.
In all it was an strong effort from the Tigers in front of the biggest crowd seen at the sporting complex in recent years. Lock Rickie Toby and fullback TJ Rudolph were other standouts while interchange forward Tim Watson helped himself to three tries, all instigated by Bridge. His third is an early and strong nomination for the try of the year, but we'll get to that soon enough.
The Bulls did everything in their power to ensure Wingham stayed on the attack. Their ball control was atrocious continually coughing up possession early in the tackle count while twice in the first half they dropped the ball on the fifth tackle. Given the amount of defence they had to do because of their error count, the Bulls tackled reasonably well. But they won't win too many games this season if they continue to surrender possession at the rate they did against the Tigers. Big prop Josh Northam was about their best.
The score favoured Wingham 20-6 at halftime After applying early pressure Tobi split the line with a diagonal run and off-loaded to second rower Michael Richards to open the scoring. Bridge's goal made it half a dozen.
Taree had their best passage of the game soon after and this resulted in Northam crashing over from close range for Ben Murray to convert. But from there it was all Wingham, Bridge holding up a pass for Watson to score his first while on the fifth tackle soon after Bridge put in a short kick and was first to the ball in a smart individual effort. A try in the corner to winger Alex Studdert sealed the scoring.
The opening passage of the second half summed up Taree's day. Two tackles after the re-start Taree lost the ball and Wingham were on the attack. Then Bridge held up a pass for Watson to run a good line and score. Bridge's goal meant the game was as good as over. But the best was to come and the next try gave the Wingham supporters plenty to cheer about. Bridge skirted the defence and called his brother, Tim, inside. He then sent a perfectly timed flick pass and his quick stepping sibling was in space. He in turn sent a great ball to the ubiquitous Watson and he sprinted to the line to touch down. There won't be a better try scored this year. Taree at least finished with a rally via tries to Tim Alliston and Murray, Murray then landing a goal from the sideline just before fulltime.