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REPORT: Bristol United 31-27 Saracens Storm

Bristol United rounded off their Aviva A-League campaign in style, beating top-of-the-table Saracens Storm 31-27 on Monday.

The hosts scored four tries to inflict a first defeat of the campaign on the visitors, as Chris Brooker, Darren Hudson and Will Sharratt all crossed, while Bristol added a penalty try in a sublime display.

Bristol started the brightest and went ahead through Academy U18s full back Dan Powell’s long-range penalty goal.

Ben Spencer leveled proceedings with a well-struck three pointer, before the home side scored the first try of the evening.

It was Chris Brooker – playing in the unfamiliar position of flanker – who dropped over the whitewash after a superbly orchestrated driving maul.

And Darren Hudson crossed for a quickfire second soon after. The winger capitalized on Andy Uren’s superb break to touch down in the corner for a converted try, moving Bristol 17-3 ahead.

Aaron Morris reduced the deficit with an unconverted try for the visitors, but Bristol hit back before the interval with a James Hall-inspired penalty try, duly converted by Dan Powell.

Saracens drew first blood in the second half when Nathan Earle stretched over, but Bristol United’s impressive evening continued as Bristol University’s Will Sharratt powered over following quick thinking from the excellent Andy Uren.

Anthony Maka kept Saracens in touch at 31-20 with a close-range effort converted by Ben Spencer and the visitors ensured a nervy finale when Seb Nagle-Taylor dabbed down for a converted try, moving his side within four points.

However, under pressure in the final seconds, Bristol United defended stoutly to hold out and end Saracens’ unbeaten run in thrilling circumstances.

Bristol United:

Dan Powell (Academy U18s/Exmouth RFC); Mark Harrison (Hartpury), Charlie Esam (Bristol Uni), Will Sharratt (Bristol Uni), Darren Hudson; Jacob Perry (Hartpury), Andy Uren; Alec Cleary (Hartpury), Max Crumpton, James Hall, Joe Joyce, Glen Townson (c), Sam Jeffries (Bristol Uni), Chris Brooker, Rayn Smid.

Replacements: James Stephenson, Alfie Barron (Hartpury), Jordan Brodley (Bristol Uni), Joe Dancer (Hartpury), Max Cresswell (Bristol Uni), Josh Barton (Academy U18s/Millfield), James Newey (Academy U18s/Christ College), Ezra Caven (Academy U18s/SGS Filton).

Saracens Storm:

Aaron Morris; Segun Rotimi, Matthew Gallagher, Tim Streather, Nathan Earle; Nils Mordt (c), Ben Spencer; Rhys Gill, Josh Taylor, Biyi Alo, Nick Isiekwe, Kieran Low, Keifer Laxton, Seb Nagle-Taylor, Anthony Maka.

Replacements: Ben Wilkinson, Ralph Adams-Nale, Taylor Reed, Josh Tyler, Jack Nay, Peter White, Tom Whiteley, Jack Longhurt.

Referee: Dan Parrott