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Report: Bristol Rugby 32-20 Rotherham Titans

Bristol will take a 12 point lead to Rotherham for the second leg of the Greene King IPA Championship play-off semi-final.

The hosts – who trailed by nine points early in the second period – touched down four times courtesy of Jack Lam, David Lemi and Charlie Amesbury, while Bristol added a penalty try.

Andy Robinson’s men go to Abbeydale for the second leg with a twelve point advantage following the Ashton Gate win.

During the cagey opening exchanges, David Lemi and Michael Keating both made half-breaks, but it wasn’t until the 19th minute that the deadlock was broken.

Ben Morris crashed over for Rotherham Titans, while Tom Barrett added the extras.

In an error-strewn first period that saw Bristol lose Mitch Eadie to a shoulder injury, Gavin Henson and Tom Barrett traded penalties, before the hosts reduced the deficit on the stroke of half-time.

After three successive attacking lineouts deep in Titans territory, Jack Lam cantered over for an unconverted try, moving the score to 8-10 at the interval.

Bristol endured a difficult start to the second half as Gareth Maule was sin-binned for a professional foul following Tom Barrett’s thirty-metre break.

But the Titans fly half missed the target with a three-pointer attempt and Rotherham were reduced to fourteen men soon after when Robin Hislop saw yellow.

However, the visitors pushed further ahead as Jamie Broadley collected Jordan Davies’ inside pass to cross, while Barrett slotted the conversion to put his side 8-17 in front.

Henson struck a penalty goal to put Bristol within six points, before the home side turned the game on its head with a moment of magic.

Replacement fly half Nicky Robinson spotted a gap, ghosted blind and sent David Lemi over the whitewash in style.

And Bristol added a penalty try – converted by Henson - late in the game to gain a valuable advantage, although Tom Barrett’s penalty goal in the closing stages reduced the arrears to twelve.

Bristol Rugby:

Jack Wallace; David Lemi, Gareth Maule, Gavin Henson, Charlie Amesbury; Matthew Morgan, Dwayne Peel (c); Kyle Traynor, Ross McMillan, Gaston Cortes, Glen Townson, Mark Sorenson, Ryan Jones, Jack Lam, Mitch Eadie.

Replacements: Chris Brooker, Anthony Perenise (for Gaston Cortes, 68 mins), Ben Glynn (for Glen Townson, 59 mins), Marco Mama (for Mitch Eadie, 15 mins), Tom Kessell, Nicky Robinson (for Jack Wallace, 59 mins), Jack Tovey.

Rotherham Titans:

Sean Scanlon; Jamie Broadley, Lloyd Hayes, Jordan Davies, Michael Keating; Tom Barrett, Andy Davies; Robin Hislop, Tom Cruse, Mark Tampin, Barney Maddison, Sean Robinson, Alex Rieder, Ali Birch, Ben Morris.

Replacements: Jack Preece (for Ali Birch, 59 mins), Toby Williams (for Robin Hislop, 61 mins), Lewis Thiede (for Mark Tampin, 48 mins), Ben Thomas (for Sean Robinson, 40 mins), Max Argyle (for Ben Morris, 71 mins), Dan White (for Andy Davies, 66 mins), Curtis Wilson (for Michael Keating, 80 mins).

Referee: Matthew Carley
Airbus UK Man of the Match: Jack Lam
Attendance: 7,381