HEARTBREAK FOR WORTHING

BRIDGWATER denied Worthing a place in the National League with an injury-time try on Saturday. Worthing led 23-7 at half-time, but Bridgwater's extra fitness told as they won 30-26.

Quotes from Saturday - Worthing RFC chairman of rugby Dick Mowbray: "WE'VE broken open this league by beating all the crack sides except Cambridge. We're not downcast. This time last year we didn't think we'd be in a play-off for the National League."

Worthing RFC president Charles Boughton-Leigh:

"IT'S only two or three years since Bridgwater & Albion were in National Division 3 South. We played magnificently and when we were down to 13 they just pipped us. I think in the second half they just deserved to win.

Former Worthing and Sussex hooker of the 1980s, Nick Grantham-Hill: "What can you say after that? What a wonderful game. Both sides have scored a bucketful of points this season, it was an outstanding performance by Worthing, and you couldn't ask for more.

What a super occasion for Sussex rugby. Worthing are a competitive side.

I'm sad, but proud to have been here today. A great day for the club. They've come a long way.

Saturday's facts and figures - GATE admission charges were imposed by the RFU for the Play-off. Worthing, Bishop's Stortford and London Nigerians are the only London 1 clubs not to charge admission this season. On Saturday, Worthing aksed members for 3, non-members 5, and Under-16s nothing at all. But a significant number of the 1,200 crowd were non-paying people present.

THERE were other spectators from London Scottish and Canterbury, and Cambridge representatives shared the big pre-match lunch, at which Worthing and Bridgy presidents, Charles Boughton-Leigh and Mike Berry exchanged plaques and club ties. Boughton-Leigh immediately handed his Bridgy tie to chairman Allan Imrie, declaring: "Nobody knows how much work he puts in."

Berry said: "We knew from November onwards that runners-up was the best we could hope for and we got there. Now today were both going int0 the unknown."

AFTER rules allow an unrestricted number of foreign, non-European players in Division 1, Bridgy, who had five on Saturday's squad, will be allowed only two South Africans, Australians of New Zealanders in the National League next season.

COLIN COULSON, former club captain, father of Ben, now team touch judge in league matches but sidelined this time because of neutral match officials were designated, was lost for what to do before the game.

Pacing up and down the clubhouse, checking his watch at still two hours before kick-of, he explained: "I'm more nervous now than if I'd been playing in the match. I just want it to get started and be over with. Normally, as touch judge, by now I'd be changed and doing my warm-up.

"The family did everything this morning the same as every match day: same breakfast; my wife (and Ben's mum], Judy comes in the car but sits and reads for half an hour before she gets out and joins us."

POST-MATCH, Worthing 1st XV held their Player awards. Ben Dudley was Player of ther Season and Rowan O'Gorman's 32 took the Most Tries honour. Ryan Storer, Player of the Season last year, won the Supporters' Player of the Year.

During the pre-match lunch other teams' awards were handed out. High-scoring former Brighton Cougars basketball team guard Gareth Morgans took the Warriors (2nd XV) Player of the Year for his performances in the centre. He made the 1st XV bench this season for the Sussex Trophy quarter-final against Brighton.

Ivon Luke was the Player of the Season for the Azurians (3rds) who were Sussex Reserve League runners-up.

Legendary wing Mark O'Connor, now in his early 40s, was the Cavaliers (Veterans) Player of the Season with the ever-present John Mills the Players' Player.

For match report and pictures, see this week's Worthing Herald.