Birmingham & Solihull 16 Bristol Rugby 26
Bristol gain an important win away from home against Birmingham & Solihull. Tries from Johnson and Irish, and two conversions and six penalties from Jarvis secure Bristol's victory.
PAUL Hull paid tribute to departing fly-half Adrian Jarvis after his 100 per cent kicking record and 16 points helped Bristol to a fourth successive victory.
Head coach Hull confirmed after the match that 27-year-old Jarvis, who arrived from Harlequins in the summer of 2008, is moving to Aviva Premiership club Leeds Carnegie with immediate effect and will play no further part for Bristol this season.
But Jarvis made his final game in the Bristol blue and white one to remember as he kicked two conversions and four penalties to ensure the team he is leaving returned to the all-important Championship top eight.
Bristol now go into Sunday’s key home match with ninth-placed Plymouth Albion buoyed by four wins from four matches against Esher, Llanelli, London Welsh and now Birmingham & Solihull, who contributed plenty to a tight encounter at Damson Park.
Hull said: “We wanted AJ to stay, because he’s a leader on the pitch and it’s a crucial stage of the season, but he goes to Leeds with our best wishes and he has played well for us even when we knew this was on the cards..
“He was man of the match last week and kicked all his goals today, so he’s in a rich vein of form and we’ll miss him, but we’ve got cover in Nicky Little and Ed Barnes. We’re disappointed to see him go but we wish him the best of luck.”
Aside from Jarvis’ superb farewell contribution, Bristol front-row pair Ross Johnston and Mark Irish scored tries – the first with a more conventional forward’s effort; the second with a collector’s item side-step – to ensure victory was achieved and eighth place regained.
Bristol began brightly, continuing the forward dominance they had shown against London Welsh a week earlier as early as the sixth minute. After winning a penalty, Jarvis and skipper Iain Grieve elected against taking the three points and instead kicked to touch – and their decision was vindicated. After Bristol’s initial drive was pulled down, Jarvis kicked to within five metres, the pack clicked into gear and Johnston got the ball down for the opening try.
Jarvis converted for a 7-0 lead – and then made it 10-0 after referee Martin Fox had sent Bees flanker Jack Preece to the sin-bin for killing the ball having earlier warned the hosts’ captain.
Bees were gritty opponents, though, and even when reduced to 14 men they continued to make life awkward for Bristol, with former Bristol fly-half Mark Woodrow landing a penalty to make it 10-3. The visitors had a let off when Rod Petty failed to find the well-placed Semisi Tualava, before Bristol were forced into a change when Anthony Elliott suffered a head injury and was replaced by Jack Adams.
Bristol rediscovered their momentum and went close off another line-out drive, before Jarvis punished a Birmingham scrummaging offence to restore Bristol’s 10-point advantage after 36 minutes. The hosts’ response was instant, though, with lock Adrian Griffiths showing good hands and clear vision to send full-back Ollie Winter flying away down the left and in for the hosts’ only try of the contest shortly before the break. When Woodrow converted, the Bees’ deficit was a mere three points at 13-10, but Jarvis had the final say of the first half when he landed a penalty after another Bristol drive had been pulled down.
James Merriman came close to adding a second try nine minutes into the second half, but, after a slick team move, was somehow denied by winger Ollie Grove, who forced the Bristol man into touch as he prepared to score.
That let-off seemed to inspire Birmingham, who narrowed the deficit to 16-13 through a Woodrow penalty following an offside. The home side then went close after a loose scrum, only to be denied by a forward pass, and Bristol were well and truly in a live contest. When a Bristol defender was penalised for failing to roll away from a tackle, Woodrow took his cue and levelled the score at 16-16.
But Bristol rode the storm and then came good when it mattered. First, Jarvis nudged them back in front with his fourth successful penalty of the game. Then, after another impressive team move, which featured several phases and some good handling, loosehead prop Irish burst clear, side-stepped his man and dived over to give Jarvis a routine conversion to seal the 26-16 scoreline.
Birmingham & Solihull: O Winter; O Grove, W Lawson, S Cox, M Culpin; M Woodrow, R Petty (J Williams 65); R Dugard (J Reid 80), R McMillan, N Tau (L Halavatau 54), S Tualava, A Griffiths, R Connolly, J Preece (M Denbee 70), M Hopley (A Clayton 53). Reps not used: B Gerry, R Noonan.
Scorers: Try – Winter. Con – Woodrow. Pens – Woodrow (3).
Sin-binned: Preece (17-30, killing the ball).
Bristol: J Tovey; A Elliott (J Adams 26), J Fatialofa, E Barnes, G Watkins; A Jarvis, R Bolt (R Shaw 76); M Irish, R Johnston, D Crompton (W Thompson 56), M Sambucetti (D Barry 65), R Winters, I Grieve (capt), J Merriman (J Miller 65), D Montagu. Reps not used: D Blaney, N Little.
Scorers: Tries – Johnston, Irish. Cons – Jarvis (2). Pens – Jarvis (4).
Referee: M Fox. Attendance: 407.