Superb Bristol End Blues Run
Bristol Rugby 23 - 13 Bedford
Bristol Rugby ended Bedford’s unbeaten start to the RFU Championship with a spirited 23-13 win over the Blues at a sodden Memorial Stadium.
Luke Eves scored two second-half tries as the hosts, who spent a portion of the second period with fourteen men when Kyle Traynor saw yellow, came from behind to seal a dramatic victory.
Bristol made the worst possible start when James Merriman spilled possession inside the 22 and, after Bedford won a penalty at the scrum, James Pritchard struck a simple three-pointer.
The hosts soon found their stride but, despite a lengthy spell of possession in which Tovey and Gadd created half-breaks, Bristol couldn’t find a way through a stubborn Bedford defensive line.
Tristan Roberts ensured the scores were level midway through the first period when the fly-half converted a penalty goal from the angle after a strong surge from the pack.
Bedford went back in front following a stunning length-of-the-field counter-attack. Replacement winger Ben Ransom scythed through several attempted tackles before James Pritchard cantered over for a converted try.
Despite the Blues squandering several gilt-edged chances to extend their lead, Bristol cut the deficit on the stroke of half-time, courtesy of Roberts’ second penalty goal.
Liam Middleton’s men started the second half brightly and could have closed the gap further with a penalty opportunity, only for Roberts’ attempt to fall short. Bristol gained the advantage soon after for the first time in the game, thanks to the quick-thinking of Jack Gadd.
The centre was the first to react to a loose ball, scooping it up and powering forward. With Bedford’s defence all at sea, Luke Eves accelerated through for a converted try, moving the score to 13-10.
With the home side in the ascendancy, Tristan Roberts added a penalty goal to open up a six-point gap, while Pritchard skewed an effort wide for the Blues.
In a topsy-turvy second half, Kyle Traynor’s sin-binning and James Pritchard’s resulting penalty goal gave the visitors hope at 16-13.
But fourteen-man Bristol pushed further ahead when Jack Gadd broke free of the shackles and offloaded for Eves to sprawl across the whitewash. Jarvis slotted the conversion to confirm a superb 23-13 victory.
Jack Tovey; Ryan Edwards, Luke Eves, Jack Gadd, Mike Tagicakibau; Tristan Roberts, James Grindal (c); Kyle Traynor, Ross Johnston, Gaston Cortes, Ben Glynn, Roy Winters, Redford Pennycook, James Merriman, Mitch Eadie.
Replacements: Tom Channon, Bruce Douglas (for Gaston Cortes, 58 mins), Glen Townson, Iain Grieve (for James Merriman, 70 mins), Ruki Tipuna (for James Grindal, 66 mins), Adrian Jarvis (for Tristan Roberts, 56 mins), George Watkins.
James Pritchard (c); Ollie Dodge, Brendan Burke, Henry Staff, Josh Bassett; Jake Sharp, Luke Baldwin; Darren Fearn, Neil Cochrane, Phil Boulton, Paul Tupai, Mike Howard, Gregor Gillanders, Sacha Harding, Alex Rae.
Replacements: Scott Spurling (for Neil Cochrane, 73 mins), Dan Seal (for Darren Fearn, 60 mins), Ben Gulliver, Joe Van Der Molen (for Paul Tupai, 73 mins), Darryl Veenendaal (for Luke Baldwin, 73 mins), Mark Atkinson (for Jake Sharp, 68 mins), Ben Ransom (for Ollie Dodge, 18 mins).
Referee: Darren Gamage