Bristol Remain Top After Ravens Win
Ulster Ravens 8 - 14 Bristol Rugby
Bristol Rugby remain top of Pool One after a hard-fought 14-8 victory over Ulster Ravens at a rainswept Deramore Park on Friday night.
Liam Middleton’s men require just a point against Cardiff next Sunday to guarantee a place in the B&I Cup quarter-finals.
George Watkins’ early score and a second half penalty try proved the difference, although Bristol – who lost Marco Mama to the sin-bin – survived a late fightback.
Bristol raced into a 0-7 lead when George Watkins collected Jack Tovey’s neat offload to slide in under the posts for a converted effort.
The visitors enjoyed the lion’s share of possession in the opening exchanges but couldn’t stretch their advantage, despite James Merriman and George Watkins breaking clear.
In torrential conditions, Adrian Jarvis failed to hit the target with a penalty attempt from the angle, before Niall O’Connor reduced the deficit on the stroke of half-time with a long-range three pointer.
Bristol came out firing after the interval and stretched their advantage, courtesy of a penalty try after pressure at the scrum. Jarvis converted to put his side a 3-14 up.
But Liam Middleton’s side were forced to defend for long periods of the second half and, after Marco Mama was sin-binned for pulling down a lineout, the Ravens went close through scrum half Michael Heaney.
Neil Walsh saw his effort ruled out after referee Johann Van Der Merwe spotted a forward pass in the build-up, before the Ravens fought back to within six points when lock James Simpson crashed over from five metres.
Ulster could have snatched an unlikely victory in driving rain at the death, but last-ditch tackles from David McIlwaine and Tristan Roberts kept the home side at bay.
Blane McIlroy; Neil Walsh, Stuart McCloskey, Niall O’Connor, Rory Scholes; Stuart Olding, Michael Heaney; Richard Lutton, Niall Annett (c), Adam Macklin, Alan O’Connor, James Simpson, Conor Birch, Ali Birch, James McMahon.
Replacements: Nigel Brady (for Niall Annett, 50 mins), Andy Warwick (for Adam Macklin, 9 mins), John Donnan, Nail Faloon (for James McMahon, 66 mins), John Creighton, Stuart Morrow (for Stuart McCloskey, 50 mins), Chris Colvin (for Rory Scholes, 60 mins).
Jack Tovey; George Watkins, Mike Tagicakibau, Luke Eves, David McIlwaine; Adrian Jarvis, James Grindal (c); Kyle Traynor, Ross Johnston, Jason Hobson, Ben Glynn, Glen Townson, Marco Mama, James Merriman, Mitch Eadie.
Replacements: Rhys Lawrence (for Ross Johnston, 62 mins), Mark Lilley (for Kyle Traynor, 41 mins), Wayne Thompson (for Jason Hobson, 69 mins), Mariano Sambucetti, Redford Pennycook, Ruki Tipuna, Tristan Roberts (for Mike Tagicakibau, 56 mins).
Referee: Johann Van Der Merwe