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Report: Bristol United 27-17 London Irish

Bristol United recorded their first A-League victory of the season with an entertaining 27-17 victory over London Irish.

The hosts touched down twice before the interval, courtesy of Jack Wallace and Jack Tovey, while Reiss Cullen stretched over midway through the second half.


What happened?

In a ferocious encounter, Jacob Atkins broke the deadlock when the London Irish fly half struck an angled penalty inside ten minutes.

Billy Searle’s three pointer drew Bristol United level, before the home side took control in an impressive first half performance.

First, Jack Wallace latched onto Tom Hargan’s smart inside pass to race in from twenty metres for a converted score.

Then, on the half hour mark, Jack Tovey rounded off a superb team try to canter in under the posts and stretch the advantage to 17-3 at the interval.

Ryan Glynn looks for support from the back of a ruck (JMPUK).

Bristol United continued to enjoy the ascendancy after the break and stretched their advantage when Reiss Cullen capitalised on a Giorgi Nemsadze break to wriggle over from close-range.

The Exiles hit back almost immediately through Tom Woolstencroft’s five metre effort, while Isaac Curtis-Harris scrambled over to set up a tense finish at Clifton RFC.

In the closing stages, London Irish came close to levelling proceedings but for a stubborn defensive effort from the hosts, before Billy Searle’s late penalty sealed a deserved win.

Key moment:

Giorgi Nemsadze's sharp break - before offloading to Reiss Cullen to score - gave Bristol United crucial breathing space and helped the home side withstand a fightback from London Irish.

Man of the match: Jack Tovey

Jack Tovey showed his class at the Clifton RFC training base with a committed performance both in defence and attack.

The rangy centre finished off a flowing move during the first period and was typically aggressive in defence, making a number of crucial turnovers late on.

Tovey showed plenty of desire as Bristol United raced into a 24-3 lead and held out to post their first A League win of the campaign.

Photo of the match:

Reiss Cullen is congratulated after his second half try (JMPUK).

Teams:

15. Jack Wallace; 14. Tom Hargan, 13. Jack Tovey, 12. James Newey, 11. Maliq Holden (Hartpury BUCS); 10. Billy Searle, 9. Ryan Glynn; 1. Jack Cosgrove, 2. Ben Gompels (Bristol University), 3. Gaston Cortes, 4. Joe Latta (c), 5. Dan Tuohy, 6. James Dun, 7. Nick Fenton-Wells, 8. Giorgi Nemsadze.

Replacements: 16. Will Capon (Bristol Grammar School), 17. Ryan Bevington, 18. Alex Giltrow, 19. Joe Batley, 20. Max Cresswell (Bristol University), 21. Reiss Cullen, 22. Robbie Faulkner (Hartpury BUCS), 23. Robbie Forbes (Hartpury BUCS).

London Irish ‘A’: 15 Tom Parton, 14 Ollie Hassell-Collins, 13 Tom Fowlie, 12 Luke McLean, 11 Ben Ransom, 10 Jacob Atkins, 9 Rory Brand, 1 Tom Smallbone (c), 2 Saia Fainga’a, 3 Lovejoy Chawatama, 4 Josh Basham, 5 Will Lloyd, 6 Max Northcote-Green, 7 Isaac Curtis-Harris, 8 Lasha Lomidze.

Replacements: 16 Todd Gleave, 17 Austin Hay, 18 Manasa Saulo, 19 Lee Moore, 20 Tom Woolstencroft, 21 Ed Hoadley, 22 Basil Strang, 23 Alec Coombes.