Bristol Rugby 23 Nottingham 37
Bristol suffer a 23-37 loss at home to Nottingham in the British and Irish cup.
In front of a disappointingly sparse crowd, the match opened with great pace and adventure; Nicky Little and Chris Ashwin linking well in fluid play. Bristol were quickly on the scoreboard with a Little penalty. In the typical Bristol fashion they promptly gave away a penalty of their own to equalise the score. Little then took Bristol back in front with another penalty.
Bristol then scored a tremendous try with Little linking with Jack Tovey and then the ball swept on to fellow winger George Watkins to slice the defence apart with a display of sheer pace. A scissor move freed Jack Gadd to crash over for a converted try and a 13 - 3 lead.
Almost from the restart Nottingham hit back with a simple converted try of their own, with Kalamafoni hammering over. Play was end to end stuff and a good kick and chase from Bristol forced an error from Nottingham and then another penalty for Little to edge his side further in front at 16 - 10. Nottingham were right back at Bristol though and a stunning riposte saw Kench driven over for a converted try and a single point lead.
Nottingham kept Bristol pinned back in their half and clearly felt they had the edge at the set-piece. A series of scrums down on the five metre line looked ominous but the award of a free-kick failed to land the killer blow and stalwart defence forced a turnover. Bristol were sparked back into life as the half drew to a close and play swept up field following a break from Sam Alford. The scrum half again darted forward, with the pack supporting well. Over the line went the ball but Nottingham just managed to hold it up for a five metre scrum. Bristol initially tried to force their way over but then the ball went out to Tovey who was unable to find a way through as they half came to a close.
Bristol had an early chance to regain the lead but Little hooked the fairly simple penalty well wide of the posts. Nottingham seized their opportunity and pushed Bristol back with good, tight, driving play. Bristol were penalised and Nottingham took the bold option of kicking for touch. The expected catch and drive failed to materialise but the visitors continued to press but then clumsily knocked-on. Bristol broke away in cavalier style but poor handling let them down and allowed Nottingham to maintain the pressure. Another penalty to touch allowed them to smash away at the defence. Bristol again looked to have forced a turnover but the referee brandished a harsh yellow card to skipper Darren Crompton. Unsurprisingly Nottingham elected for a scrum and went close with their initial thrust. Keeping play tight, it was inevitable they would score and scrum-half Barnham went over for a converted try and a 16 - 24 lead.
Bravely the hosts tried to hit back but more poor handling prevented the building of any real attacking platform and Nottingham received a further boost when Jonathon Brandling-Harris was rightly (if very quickly) sin-binned for failing to roll away. The penalty kick was a formality for Marshall and Nottingham had a 16 - 27 lead. Nottingham looked comfortable against a depleted team and soon scored again from a Bristol error when Ashwin's attempted chip was miscued straight into the grasp of Eggleshaw who raced in from half way. The conversion was missed but Bristol looked dead and buried at 16 - 32. Things shortly looked even worse when the defence fell apart to let Forsyth stroll in for another unconverted try but a score of 16 - 37.
If Bristol heads had seemed to drop before this try, suddenly Bristol were galvanised into action and a lovely little break from replacement Robbie Shaw created enough space for Tovey to show his strength and pace to cross the whitewash. Mark Davies, on for Little, converted to take Bristol to a slightly more respectable score of 23 - 37. Revitalised, Bristol strove for another score but time was against them and the whistle went without any further points.