Bristol Come From Behind To Seal Albion Win
Plymouth 31-38 Bristol Rugby
Bristol Rugby came from behind to secure a 31-38 victory over Plymouth at Brickfields, sealing a seventh straight win in all competitions.
Andy Robinson’s men – who trailed 21-5 midway through a frenetic first half – scored six tries courtesy of George Watkins (3), Ben Skirving, Nicky Robinson and Bryan Rennie.
Bristol fell behind inside the opening two minutes as Tom Bowen raced over for a converted try after Ben Woods had ghosted his way between two defenders.
George Watkins thought we had cut the deficit when he dabbed down from close range, only for play to be recalled for an adjudged forward pass.
Plymouth’s barnstorming start continued when Jack Arnott accelerated down the outside channel to cross following neat interplay with Chris Elder. Cusack’s successful conversion moved the score to 14-0.
Bristol enjoyed the lion’s share of possession in the first period but, despite going close through Andy Short and Ryan Edwards, couldn’t turn their pressure into points.
Andy Robinson’s men did find a route back into the game on the quarter-hour mark. Ben Skirving latched onto an overthrown lineout deep in Plymouth territory to gallop across the whitewash for his first try in Bristol colours.
Plymouth stretched their advantage soon after when Tom Bowen scooped up a loose pass in the Bristol midfield to canter in under the posts for a third Albion try. Cusack slotted the extras as the home side moved 21-5 in front.
In the closing stages of the first half, Jack Arnott saw yellow for a deliberate knock-on and the visitors took full advantage.
From the resulting lineout, George Watkins squeezed through a crowd of bodies to touch down for a converted try.
Then, on the stroke of the interval, Jack Tovey released Watkins into space and the winger made no mistake from thirty-five metres. Nicky Robinson’s angled conversion ensured Bristol went in trailing 21-19 at the break.
But the hard work was undone almost immediately after the restart as Sean Michael-Stephen intercepted Nicky Robinson’s long pass on halfway before feeding Tom Bowen who notched his third try of the afternoon.
After Cusack struck a penalty goal attempt wide, Bristol rang the changes, introducing Ruki Tipuna, Marco Mama, Bryan Rennie and Ross Johnston.
The fresh legs added a new impetus to the visitors’ attacking play and George Watkins and Marco Mama both went close, while Glen Townson and Ben Mosses were held up over the line as Bristol lay siege to the Albion line.
The pressure did eventually pay of as Andy Robinson’s men notched two tries in quick succession.
First, Nicky Robinson waltzed through two defenders to touch down for a converted score, before George Watkins sealed his hat-trick in spectacular fashion.
The winger rounded off a flowing eighty-metre counter-attack to dive over for a converted try, turning the game on its head at 28-33.
In a breathless second half, Plymouth surged forward in numbers and had a Eoghan Grace try disallowed, but Bristol – who sealed victory with Bryan Rennie’s last-gasp try – held on to maintain their formidable record at Brickfields, despite a late Chris Elder penalty goal.
Chris Elder; Tom Bowen, Ben Woods, Toby Howley-Berridge, Jack Arnott; Declan Cusack, Paul Rowley; Ben Rogers, Max Crumpton, Dave Morton, Dan Williams, Ien Ascroft-Leigh, Sean-Michael Stephen, Rob Langley, Rhys Oakley (c).
Replacements: Gareth Evans (for Max Crumpton, 80 mins), Martin Rice (for Ben Rogers, 72 mins), Harrison Tovey (for Dan Williams, 64 mins), Eoghan Grace (for Robert Langley, 51 mins), James Shanahan (for Declan Cusack, 72 mins), Cameron Setter, Heath Stevens (for Ben Woods, 58 mins).
Jack Tovey; George Watkins, Andy Short, Ben Mosses, Ryan Edwards; Nicky Robinson, James Grindal; Kyle Traynor, Ollie Hayes, Bruce Douglas, Glen Townson, Mark Sorenson (c), Iain Grieve, James Merriman, Ben Skirving.
Replacements: Ross Johnston (for Ollie Hayes, 44 mins), Mark Lilley (for Kyle Traynor, 80 mins), Marco Mama (for Iain Grieve, 48 mins), Mitch Eadie (for James Merriman, 76 mins), Ruki Tipuna (for James Grindal, 44 mins), Tristan Roberts (for Ben Mosses, 80 mins), Bryan Rennie (for Andy Short, 51 mins).
Referee: David Rose