An exhilarating eleven try display saw Bridgend take the Harry Jepson Trophy for the second time in three seasons, emulating the feat of Crawley Jets, in a record victory in the Grand Final.
Brilliant off-loading amongst a super fast back division with Lenny Woodard and Paul Morgan capitalising on the guile of halves Kevin Ellis and classy 24 point Bev Risman medal winner Gareth David, combined with the power of Nathan Strong – who lived up to his name – and Karl Hocking, tore the Akkies apart.
In a commendably mistake-free opening, the Bulls had the better of the first ten minutes in a taste of what was to come, spurning two guilt edged chances on the end of some frantic scrambling defence from the Yorkshire men.
The first flowing move initiated by Morgan, Kevin Ellis and Marcus Sainsbury saw Woodard hauled down just short, impressive Nathan Strong knocking after a quick play the ball in the act of scoring.
Kevin Ellis, running the show in midfield with a delicious array of passes, sent Hocking powering clear, Woodard losing possession as Andy Knapton came across in desperate cover.
From those escapes Leeds hit back against the run of play, Leon Crick’s clever chip over forced Neil Dixon to spill the ball, Chris Lewis gathered and Knapton had Duncan Ogilvie on his shoulder on the inside to skate in for the opening score at the posts.
Bridgend’s reply was devastating with three tries in four minutes as they made the most of a glut of possession by keeping the ball alive in thrilling fashion.
Alan Holdsworth mis-fielded the kick off and after Grant Epton had made good ground, dynamic Craig Fox nipped over from acting half back.
In the next set Sainsbury, Kevin Ellis and Hocking exploited the right, Dixon linked superbly, Woodard powered clear and Kevin Ellis in intelligent support skipped his way to the line.
From the re-start Morgan produced a moment of solo magic, stepping to the touchline side and breaking clear before dummying his way over out wide for an exceptional effort that had the crowd on their feet.
Leeds kicked early when they finally got their hands on the ball and were made to pay when Hocking found space up the middle, Woodard spun through the gap and although Nabozny made a fine covering effort on the ever- supporting Fox, Kevin Ellis picked the rolling ball and freed Matthew Wareham who sent Owen Strong on a clear run to the line to make it 22-6.
The difference between the sides was exemplified in the 28th minute, Dan McCormack, trying to relieve pressure, put in a kick to the corner and the Bulls replied with a 90 metre try, the ball flowing through Woodard, Kevin Ellis, Geriant Lewis and Owen Strong, Nabozny again pulling off a fine tackle but holding down too long and from the tap David burrowed his way over.
In the lead up to half time Lewis again made ground up the middle and Woodard went on a 40 metre diagonal run to the line.
With a 34-6 half time lead, there was an understandable lessening of intensity in the hot sun in the second half.
Akkies started well to post their second score, Leon Crick feeding Matt Carbutt – another Leeds centre going into a match under an injury cloud – and he sent Nabozny over in the corner with a fine pass before limping off.
Dan McCormack and the hard working Andy Rigby had Leeds on the attack again but a poor play the ball on the Bridgend line relieved the pressure and in a flash Dixon, Woodard and Epton linked on a long range scoring raid on the counter.
Morgan should have increased the home lead when ran over the dead ball line after Kevin Ellis and David had again carved the opening but when Leeds threatened on a power play, David intercepted and again sent Epton clear on a long range touchline burst for glory.
The Blue Bulls finished in glorious fashion for their growing army of delighted fans; Woodard and Epton making the ground for Kevin Ellis to send Dixon over to bring up the half century.
Kevin Ellis was the architect for Nathan Strong to dummy his way over before David gathered the kick off and broke clear from half way, ending the contest with a ustifiably flamboyant swallow dive.
With Brynteg Comprehensive performing with distinction in the Powergen Schools competition at the Millennium Stadium the day before and the Blue Bulls producing a wonderful, expansive advert for the code, Bridgend is buzzing and the arrival of the Celtic Crusaders in 2006 at Brewery Field looks to be on the firmest of footings.
GAME STAR: Among a host of candidates not least Lenny Woodard and Kevin Ellis, 24 point Gareth David’s quality stood out.
GAME BREAKER: Three tries in four blistering minutes after Leeds had taken a shock lead gave the Blue Bulls the impetus for a comprehensive win.
1 Neil Dixon
2 Owen Strong
3 Paul Morgan
4 Lenny Woodard
5 Grant Epton
6 Gareth David
7 Kevin Ellis (C)
8 Nathan Strong
9 Lloyd O’Connor
10 Jon Purnell
11 Karl Hocking
12 Carle Ellis
13 Marcus Sainsbury
Subs (all used)
14 Craig Fox
15 Hywel Davies
16 Geriant Lewis
17 Matthew Wareham
Tries: Fox (14), Ellis (16), Morgan (18), O. Strong (24), David (29, 78), Woodard (33), Epton (47, 64), Dixon (74), N. Strong (76)
Goals: David 8/11
1 Ben Nabozny
2 Jason Whitehead
3 Lee Carbutt
4 Ken Marshall-Grant
5 Duncan Ogilvie
6 Dominic McCormack (C)
7 Leon Crick
8 Andy Rigby
9 Dan McCormack
10 Martin Taylor
11 Chris Lewis
12 Andy Knapton
13 Alan Holdsworth
Subs (all used)
14 Mike Shires
15 Scott Simpson
16 Tom Bindloss
17 Graeme Sargeant
Tries: Ogilvie (11, 43)
Goals: Crick 1/2
Men of the match:
BLUE BULLS – Lenny Woodard
AKKIES- Ben Nabozny
Half time: 34-6
Penalty count: 5-9
Referee: Cliff Tamou (Wigan)
Attendance: 1, 168
Scoring sequence: 0-6, 6-6, 12-6, 16-6, 22-6, 28-6, 34-6, 34-10, 40-10, 44-10, 50-10, 54-10, 60-10
Article by Phil Caplan