Bristol Fall To Narrow Opening Day Defeat
Cornish Pirates 23 - 21 Bristol Rugby
Bristol Rugby fell to an agonizing opening day defeat at the hands of Cornish Pirates on Sunday.
Andy Robinson’s men went down 23-21 at Sandy Park, although Adrian Jarvis had the chance to level it up with the last kick of the game – a conversion from the touchline.
In an attritional affair, James Merriman and Luke Eves grabbed tries for Bristol, but it wasn’t enough to prevent a loss to a spirited Pirates outfit.
Bristol started brightly and, after James Hall had come within inches of burrowing over, Jarvis broke the deadlock with a simple penalty goal.
But it was Cornish Pirates who scored the opening try when James Sandford muscled his way across the whitewash from close range. Keiran Hallett slotted the extras to move his side into a 7-3 lead.
The former Plymouth Albion fly half added a penalty goal moments later, although Pirates were reduced to fourteen men on the half hour mark when Rob Elloway saw yellow for killing possession.
Jarvis and Hallett traded penalties in quick succession, before Ryan Edwards almost went over in the corner, only to be thwarted by a fine cover tackle.
With the man advantage, Andy Robinson’s men enjoyed a spell of pressure but – despite Amesbury making a dangerous break - couldn’t find a way through a stubborn red and black defence.
Jarvis did reduce arrears with a three-pointer, but Hallett’s penalty goal on the stroke of half-time ensured the Pirates went in leading 16-9 at the half-time break.
The introduction of Jason Hobson and Ruki Tipuna after the interval gave Bristol some much-needed impetus and, ten minutes into the second period, James Merriman leveled proceedings as Bristol pushed forward in numbers.
The flanker scrambled through several challenges to dab down for a converted try, which was awarded following a lengthy TMO review.
In a scrappy encounter, James Tincknell’s solo finish gave Pirates a seven-point lead with less than a quarter of an hour remaining. The winger accelerated through the midfield to fly in under the posts for a converted touchdown.
Luke Eves’ last-gasp try in the corner set up an exciting finale, but Jarvis saw his conversion attempt fade wide, condemning Andy Robinson’s men to a narrow opening day reverse.
Craig Holland, James Tincknell, Tom Riley, Rheon James, Matt Evans Keiran Hallett, Gavin Cattle (capt), Laurie McGlone, Joe Conlon, Chris Morgan Darren Barry, James Sandford, Ben Prescott, Rob Elloway, Alan Paver.
Replacements: Aaron Carpenter (for Laurie McGlone, 74 mins), Jack Andrew (for Alan Paver, 67 mins), Gary Johnson (for James Sandford, 61 mins), Matt Bolwell, Tom Kessell (for Matt Evans, 56 mins), Angus Sinclair, Junior Fatialofa.
Adam D'Arcy; Charlie Amesbury, Andy Short, Luke Eves, Ryan Edwards; Adrian Jarvis, James Grindal (c); Kyle Traynor, Rhys Lawrence, James Hall Ben Skirving, Mark Sorenson; Nick Koster, James Merriman, Marco Mama.
Replacements: Ollie Hayes (for Rhys Lawrence, 67 mins), Jason Hobson (for James Hall, 40 mins), Glen Townson (for Nick Koster, 77 mins), Redford Pennycook (for James Merriman, 69 mins), Ruki Tipuna (for James Grindal, 45 mins), Tristan Roberts, Fautua Otto (for Andy Short, 69 mins).
Referee: David Rose