- The Championship
- Friday, December 22nd 2017
- Ashton Gate
Will Carpenter reports from Ashton Gate
Report: Bristol Rugby 56-19 Cornish Pirates
Friday, December 22nd 2017
Bristol Rugby are the Greene King IPA Championship’s Christmas number one after a breathtaking attacking performance saw them demolish sixth-placed Cornish Pirates at Ashton Gate on Friday night.
Chris Vui’s second-minute try set Pat Lam’s men on their way to a 12th successive league win, before Luke Morahan, Alapati Leiua and Tusi Pisi ensured the bonus point was wrapped up inside 28 minutes.
Pirates hit back with tries either side of half time courtesy of Tom Lawday and Alex Cheesman, before Jack Lam restored order with 55th-minute effort.
Josh Caulfield grabbed a third for the visitors two minutes later, before a scintillating 70-metre score from Mat Protheroe – and late tries from Joe Joyce and Sam Jeffries - rounded off an emphatic win for the unbeaten league leaders.
Luke Morahan returned from a hamstring injury to start as Pat Lam included ten internationals in his squad, with Tusi Pisi also returning to skipper the side from inside centre. Ian Madigan and Rhodri Williams formed the half-back partnership, while in the pack, Jack Lam came into the back row with Steven Luatua (ribs) still unavailable.
The hosts hit top gear from the first whistle as recently-installed Samoa captain Vui steamed on to a pass from Rhodri Williams and over the whitewash after just two minutes.
Madigan added the first of eight conversions on another faultless night from the kicking tee for the Irishman, before turning provider for Luke Morahan with a pinpoint cross-field kick on 13 minutes.
Jordan Williams’ classy fading line off a Madigan pass saw him send Leiua in for Bristol’s third, as the hosts continued to thrive off front-foot ball, before Leiua’s surge down the left saw Jordan Williams cross for the bonus point score 12 minutes before the break.
Pirates hit back with two tries in ten minutes – either side of the interval – as first Tom Lawday and then Alex Cheesman wrestled to the line from close range, to give the visitors a lifeline with half an hour left to play.
Bristol were dealt a blow when Chris Vui left the field on a stretcher following a long delay for treatment, but it didn’t halt the hosts’ charge, as compatriot Jack Lam collected Madigan’s inside pass to score his side’s fifth try.
Pirates responded through the impressive Josh Caulfield, but at the other end – and after another long delay and consultation with the TMO - referee Matthew O’Grady awarded Bristol’s sixth to Joe Joyce 14 minutes from time.
There was still time for replacement Mat Protheroe to dazzle the 11,184 supporters with the try of the night, rounding off a length of the field score with a 70-metre sprint to the line.
And Sam Jeffries took Bristol to a half century on the stroke of full time, burrowing through the melee to touch down, as Bristol made it 12 from 12 in the league.
In front of a bumper Ashton Gate crowd, Pat Lam's side were in breathtaking form from the off, wrapping up the bonus point inside 28 minutes, to open up a commanding lead they wouldn't relinquish.
Chris Vui, Alapati Leiua, Tusi Pisi and Luke Morahan all crossed during an action-packed first half, to set Bristol Rugby on their way to an 11th straight bonus-point win.
Man of the match: Ian Madigan
Sixteen points and another perfect display from the kicking tee, combined with an exhibition of passing and game management, saw Ian Madigan scoop yet another man of the match award.
The Irishman looked every bit the international as he orchestrated an impressive home victory for Bristol in front of more than 11,000 supporters at Ashton Gate.
An inch-perfect cross-field kick under extreme pressure from the Pirates defence saw Luke Morahan score early in the first half, as Madigan set the tone for the unbeaten league leaders.
Photo of the match:
Social media post of the match:
Bristol Rugby: J Williams (Protheroe 58); Morahan, Piutau, Pisi (c) (Sheedy 58), Leiua; Madigan, Williams; Tonga’uiha (Bevington 56), Harris-Wright (Fenton-Wells 68), Cortes 6 (Faletau 29), Joyce, Vui 8 (Crane 52), Jeffries, Thomas, Lam.
Replacements: Fenton-Wells, Bevington, Faletau, Crane, Uren, Sheedy, Protheroe.
Cornish Pirates: May, O'Meara (Koster 54), Laverick, De Battista (c), Moyle, Cargill, Day; Walker, Frost, Judge (Andrew 64), Caulfield, Freeman (Duncan 61), Cooper (Morgan 61), Cheesman, Lawday.
Replacements: Fish, Andrew, Morgan, Duncan, Pope, May, Koster.
- Joyce, Vui, Jeffries, Lam, Leiua, Pisi, Morahan, Protheroe
- Madigan (8)
- Yellow Cards:
- Caulfield, Cheesman, Lawday
- Cargill (2)
- Yellow Cards: