Vale so close to snatching victory
AVONVALE A losing bonus point was all unlucky Avonvale had to show for their efforts after a thrilling Dorset & Wilts 1 North derby clash with Bradford on Avon ended 18-14 to the visitors.
Bradford took an early lead after Vale failed to deal with an untidy melee in the corner but the hosts responded immediately.
Several well- worked moves deep in Bradford's 22 concluded with a neat feed to loose forward Ollie Clark, whose successful dive across the line gave centre Joe Vowles the chance to slot the conversion for a two-point advantage.
Vale continued to press but Bradford held firm until Vowles found a rare gap in midfield and sprinted to within a few metres of the tryline. With his path blocked, he laid the ball off to fellow centre Rob Cryer for the simplest of finishes before a second Vowles conversion opened up a promising lead.
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The Wiltshire side were far from finished, though, and mounted a series of attacks of their own. Some outstanding tackling restricted them to just a penalty in reply before a chip bounced kindly for the visitors and they scored a converted try to take a one-point lead into the break.
Both sides showed enterprise in attack and great resilience in defence in the second half, with Vale back-rower Leon Chignell leading a heavy tackle count.
Bradford were awarded a disputed penalty for a late tackle to move four points ahead but almost surrendered their advantage in the closing seconds.
A failed clearance kick saw Vale cross the Bradford tryline but, with too many bodies around the ball, the referee was unable to confirm the score.
While Vale took little comfort from a bonus point which leaves them stranded at the foot of the table, they were heartened after running one of the division's stronger sides so close.