Bristol Fall Short Against Nottingham
Bristol Rugby 19 - 23 Nottingham
Bristol Rugby fell to their first home defeat since late September, as Nottingham ground out a 19-23 victory at the Memorial Stadium on Friday.
George Watkins’ second half try gave the hosts hope, but missed opportunities and thirteen points from the boot of Nottingham’s James Arlidge were enough to seal victory for the Green & Whites.
Bristol could have gone in front early on, but Tristan Roberts saw his penalty effort sail wide of the upright.
The fly half made no mistake moments later however, finding the target from the angle to give the hosts a 3-0 lead.
In a nervy opening period, neither side could get a stranglehold on proceedings, although Nottingham went in front with a well-worked try.
After opting to kick for the corner on three occasions in Bristol’s 22, the visitors’ positive intent eventually paid off when Brent Wilson dabbed down following a powerful rolling maul. James Arlidge slotted the conversion as Nottingham pushed ahead at 3-7.
Tristan Roberts struck a second successful penalty goal to keep Bristol in touch, before Fautua Otto’s superb solo break nearly saw Luke Eves cross in the corner, only for the ball to spill loose metres from the line.
Liam Middleton’s men regained the advantage just after the half-hour mark, when Ruki Tipuna showed a cool head to land a drop-goal and nudge Bristol 9-7 ahead at the interval.
With both sides refusing to give an inch, Tristan Roberts saw a penalty goal attempt fade short, while Alex Lewington almost burst clear for the Green & Whites.
Roberts did land a three-pointer soon after, but the visitors hit back with a second try, courtesy of Brent Wilson. The captain stretched over for a converted try after Joe Duffey’s solo rampage down the outside channel.
Bristol missed an opportunity to go back in front when Roberts skewed his penalty effort wide of the target, while Nottingham stretched ahead to 12-17 with an Arlidge penalty goal.
The Japan international struck again minutes later to give Nottingham a cushion at 12-20 before Bristol found a route back into the game with a flash of individual brilliance.
George Watkins carved an opening and, after a fortituous bounce of the ball, collected his kick-through to touch down for a converted score.
The hosts showed plenty of endeavor in the closing stages, but James Arlidge’s last gasp penalty goal meant Bristol were forced to settle for a losing bonus point at the Memorial Stadium.
Jack Tovey; George Watkins, Fautua Otto, Luke Eves, Ryan Edwards; Tristan Roberts, Ruki Tipuna (c); Kyle Traynor, Ross Johnston, Wayne Thompson, Mariano Sambucetti, Glen Townson, Marco Mama, Redford Pennycook, Mitch Eadie.
Replacements: Rhys Lawrence (for Ross Johnston, 71 mins), Bruce Douglas (for Kyle Traynor, 67 mins), Gaston Cortes (for Wayne Thompson, 62 mins), Ben Glynn (for Mariano Sambucetti, 62 mins), James Merriman (for Redford Pennycook, 73 mins), James Grindal (for Ruki Tipuna, 67 mins), Matthew Jones.
David Jackson; Alex Lewington, Tim Streather, Joe Munro, Ryan Hough; James Arlidge, Sean Romans; Jonny Harris, Joe Duffey, Michael Holford, Dan Montagu, Nic Rouse, Rupert Cooper, Brent Wilson, Alex Shaw.
Replacements from: Shaun Malton, Ryan Bower (for Michael Holford, 79 mins), Joe Quinn, Tom Calladine (for Rupert Cooper, 77 mins), Finlay Barnham, Joe Cobden (for Tim Streather, 40 mins), Andy Forsyth (for Joe Munro, 62 mins).
Referee: David Rose