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Report: Bristol Rugby 50-34 Connacht

Bristol Rugby opened their B&I Cup account with a 50-34 victory over Connacht Eagles at Ashton Gate.

The hosts scored eight tries as Olly Robinson scored a hat-trick on his competitive debut, while Chris Brooker bagged a brace on his first start for the Club.

Luke Eves, Ryan Edwards and Marco Mama also crossed in front of over 7,000 supporters – a competition record.

Shane O’Leary kicked Connacht into an early 0-3 lead, before the home side took a stranglehold on proceedings with two quickfire tries.

First, Olly Robinson crashed over from close-range for a converted try, before Chris Brooker went over in the corner minutes later on his first competitive start.

O’Leary reduced arrears with another three-pointer, but Bristol pushed further ahead midway through the first half as Luke Eves scrambled across the whitewash for an unconverted score.

And Olly Robinson moved Bristol 26-6 ahead when the flanker dotted down for a converted try during an impressive debut.

There was still time before the half-time interval for Ryan Edwards to round off a flowing backline move to fly over and put the hosts in control.

The Eagles found a route back into the game after the break when skipper Eoghan Masterson burrowed over, while O’Leary slotted the simple conversion.

Chris Brooker added Bristol’s sixth – and his second - of the afternoon when the hooker touched down from a driving lineout before Darren Hudson and Andrew Browne saw yellow in quick succession.

Eoghan Masterson and Fionn Carr went over for the Eagles in quick succession during a pulsating second half, but Bristol put the game out of reach with two further scores.

Marco Mama crossed from the base of a strong scrum, before man-of-the-match Olly Robinson muscled his way over to complete his hat-trick with five minutes remaining on the clock.

Connacht Eagles went over for a last-minute try, courtesy of replacement Caolin Blade, but it was little more than a consolation as Bristol extended their unbeaten start to the campaign.

Bristol Rugby:

Jack Wallace; Ryan Edwards, Luke Eves, Mark Cooke, Charlie Amesbury; Adrian Jarvis, Craig Hampson; Kyle Traynor (c), Chris Brooker, James Hall, Ben Glynn, Glen Townson, Nick Koster, Olly Robinson, Marco Mama.

Replacements: Rhys Lawrence (for Chris Brooker, 71 mins), Ellis Genge (for Kyle Traynor, 54 mins), Joe Joyce (for Marco Mama, 70 mins), Josh Ovens (for Nick Koster, 48 mins), Luke Baldwin (for Craig Hampson, 71 mins), Jack Tovey (for Adrian Jarvis, 54 mins), Darren Hudson (for Luke Eves, 48 mins).

Connacht Eagles:

Dave Panther; Ciaran Gaffney, Shane O’Leary, Peter Robb, Fionn Carr; Miah Nikora, John Cooney; JP Cooney, Pat O’Toole, Jamie Dever, Andrew Browne, Danny Qualter, Stephen Mcveigh, James Connolly, Eoghan Masterson (c).

Replacements: Jack Dineen (for Pat O’Toole, 70 mins), Jacob Walshe (for Jamie Dever, 77 mins), Ultan Dillane (for Stephen Mcveigh, 66 mins), Cian Romaine (for James Connolly, 32 mins), Caolin Blade (for John Cooney, 60 mins), Conor Mckeon (for Miah Nikora, 60 mins), Dwayne Corcoran (for Dave Panther, 75 mins).

Referee: Ben Whitehouse
Attendance: 7,640
Airbus Man of the Match: Olly Robinson