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MORGAN?S TREBLE SENDS BULLS THROUGH
A hat-trick from centre Paul Morgan and a strong second half performance from the Bridgend Blue Bulls took them to the inaugural Premiership Grand Final but the South London Storm made them work hard for their win. The Storm held a narrow half time lead but couldn?t hold the Bulls as their backline exploded with four slick tries and the Storm blew itself out in the heat at Chosen Hill, Gloucester.
The game started well for Bridgend as Nathan Strong?s touchdown was ruled out for a forward pass, when from a tap penalty, Kevin Ellis spread play wide for David to step inside and score a try he converted himself.
A vigorously contested game attracted its share of penalties and the Bull's Grant Epton was sin-binned for holding Storm's Gavin Calloo down after the winger had made a whirlwind break up the left centre channel with 18 minutes gone. The Storm looked to make their man advantage Louis Neethling?s trademark strong break was eventually finished by superbly by Tane Kingi and Neethling added the goal to tie the scores.
The big South African was involved again seven minutes later as lovely hands along the backs released Calloo for a try in the corner.
Neethling goaled and added a penalty for a 14-6 lead. The Storm looked to be in control and the Bulls were feeling the heat but just before the interval, they struck back. Strong rammed his way over underneath the posts and David?s conversion left the Storm with a slender 14-12 interval lead.
The half time break worked its magic for Bridgend as they came out fired up and immediately took the game to the Storm. Five minutes into the period, Strong drove the ball to the heart of the defence and Morgan burrowed over for his first try.
The Storm were rattled and conceded two quick penalties before losing Gavin Hill to the sin bin for holding down in the tackle.
A quick counter-attack following a Storm error forced a goalline drop out and classy handling down the left wing sent Morgan haring in for his second try with 53 minutes gone. Six minutes later, Kevin Ellis spotted the Storm short on their left and shifted play quickly for Carle Ellis to score in the corner.
With David off target with both conversion attempts, the Storm were only 24-14 down but a drive from Jon Purnell from a tap penalty and a quick offload saw Morgan secure his hat-trick and the game despite another miss by David, with ten minutes still to play.
In the final few minutes, the sides exchanged tries, Pete Madigan squeezing over in the corner for the Storm after a scrum win and quick hands had given him a glimpse of the line before Kevin Ellis set the seal on a very entertaining game, dummying over by the posts. David goaled to give the Bulls a chance to regain the Harry Jepson Trophy they won in their debut season of 2003.
Bridgend Blue Bulls: Grant Epton, Geraint Lewis, Paul Morgan, Carle Ellis, Owen Strong, Gareth David, Kevin Ellis, Jon Purnell, Lloyd O?Connor, Matthew Wareham, Nathan Strong, Dean Fitzgerald, Marcus Sainsbury. Subs: Craig Fox, Leigh Taylor, Hywel Davies, Karl Hocking.
TOTALrl.com Rugby League Conference Premiership Southern Semi Final Sunday 21 August 2005 BRIDGEND BLUE BULLS ?34pts, SOUTH LONDON STORM ?18pts
Tries: Gareth David (11min), Nathan Strong (39), Paul Morgan (45, 53, 69), Carle Ellis (59), Kevin Ellis (77). Goals: Gareth David 3 from 7.
South London Storm: Mitchell Moore, Pete Madigan, Tane Kingi, Carl Zacharow, Gavin Calloo, Micky Walker, Andrew Jackson, Gavin Hill, Nathan Morris, Neil Templeman, Louis Neethling, Jason More, Keri Ryan. Subs: Phil Molloy, Mark Nesbit, Joe Ridgeley, Samron Spanic.
Tries: Tane Kingi (26 min), Gavin Calloo (33), Pete Madigan (73). Goals: Louis Neethling 3 from 4.
Referee: Darren Hayes (Widnes)
Penalties: Bridgend 10, South London 11
Half Time: Bridgend 12, South London 14.
Scoring sequence (Bridgend first): 6-0, 6-6, 6-12, 6-14, 12-14, 16-14, 20-14, 24-14, 28-14, 28-18, 34-18.
Parkhouse Recruitment Man of the Match ? Jon Purnell (Bridgend), Gavin Calloo (South London)
Chris Wilson Media Manager Gloucestershire Warriors RLFC