Bristol Celebrate 125th Birthday In Style
Bristol Rugby 45 - 27 Bedford Blues
Bristol Rugby celebrated the 125th Anniversary in fine style with a bonus point 45-27 win over Bedford Blues at the Memorial Stadium.
Andy Robinson’s men scored seven tries in total, as a George Watkins brace and efforts from James Hall and Bryan Rennie helped Bristol into a 24-0 on the half hour mark.
In a frenetic encounter, Bedford scored four of their own, but two tries from Ryan Edwards and a late Mitch Eadie score sealed a third successive Greene King IPA Championship victory.
The home side began in attacking fashion and, despite being camped in the opposition 22, squandered an early chance to take the lead when Watkins spilt a pass from Ruki Tipuna. Moments later, Ben Mosses powered his way over the line after a slick passing move but the ball was adjudged to have been held up.
But the early pressure would soon lead to the opening try – Bristol working through the phases close to the Bedford line before Tipuna fed prop James Hall to power over for his first try for the Club. Roberts nailed the conversion to hand the hosts a 7-0 lead.
The Memorial Stadium faithful did not have to wait much longer for a second. Excellent hands from the Bristol midfield set Watkins on a run to the line – the winger was hauled down agonisingly short, but Bryan Rennie dabbed down soon for an unconverted try soon after.
Bristol thought they had a third minutes later when prop Mark Lilley burst down the right wing and fed Tipuna, who scampered over the line before being called back for a foot in touch. In a dominant opening spell, James Hall thought he’d bagged a second after a catch and drive, but play was recalled for an infringement.
George Watkins was next to cross, showing great pace and footwork to finish from thirty-five metres. The winger confirmed the bonus point when we collected James Merriman’s offload to run in under the posts for a converted effort.
Bedford cut the deficit on the first visit to the Bristol 22 as the half wore to a close, Mark Atkinson fed Sam Stanley who slipped the tackle and skipped over. James Pritchard converted to give the visitors a slither of hope at the interval.
The Blues began the second half on the attack and narrowed the deficit with a simple Pritchard penalty from 25 metres. And it got better for Bedford minutes later when back-rower Don Barrell peeled off the back of a scrum and touched down from short range to reduce arrears to 24-15.
Bedford's revival was cut short soon after, however. From an attacking lineout in the Bedford 22, Tristan Roberts fed Ryan Edwards running a superb line and the winger powered his way across the line. The fly-half was successful with his conversion, taking Bristol to a 31-15 lead. The Blues hit back almost immediately when prop Phil Boulton rumbled over from an attacking lineout.
Continuing the topsy-turvy theme of the second half, it was Bristol who scored next. Edwards grabbed his second and the home side's sixth as he slid over from close range following excellent hands from the Bristol midfield. Replacement Nicky Robinson nailed an excellent touchline conversion and the home lead stretched to sixteen points.
Replacement Mitch Eadie then came off the bench in the closing ten minutes of the match to grab Bristol's seventh try of the afternoon, touching down from close range in the left corner. Robinson slotted the extras from the touchline and Bristol had opened up a 45-22 lead.
Mark Atkinson’s last-gasp try for Bedford secured a try-scoring bonus point for Mike Rayer’s men, but it couldn’t take the gloss off a fine Bristol performance.
Adam D'Arcy; George Watkins, Bryan Rennie, Ben Mosses, Ryan Edwards; Tristan Roberts, Ruki Tipuna; Mark Lilley, Ollie Hayes, James Hall; Ben Skirving, Mark Sorenson (c); Nick Koster, James Merriman, Marco Mama
Replacements: Rhys Lawrence (for Mark Lilley, 66 mins), Jason Hobson (for James Hall, 58 mins), Glen Townson (for Ben Skirving, 51 mins) Mitch Eadie (for James Merriman, 72 mins), Callum Braley (for Ruki Tipuna, 78 mins), Nicky Robinson (for Tristan Roberts 51 mins), Andy Short (for Bryan Rennie, 59 mins).
James Pritchard (c); Corey Hircock, Sam Stanley, Mark Atkinson, Neville Edwards; Jake Sharp, Darryl Veenendaal; Richard Barrington, Scott Spurling, Phil Boulton; Mike Howard, Paul Tupai; Tom Armes, Darren Fox, Don Barrell
Replacements: Charlie Clare (for Scott Spurling, 49 mins), Ben Cooper (for Phil Boulton, 66 mins), Darren Fearn (for Richard Barrington, 56 mins), Ben Gulliver (for Paul Tupai, 56 mins), Joe Vandermolen (for Tom Armes, 56 mins), Luke Baldwin (for Darryl Veenendaal, 49 mins), Michael Le Bourgeois (for Corey Hircock, 60 mins).
Referee: Tim Wigglesworth