- The Championship
- Sunday, October 1st 2017
- Ashton Gate
Will Carpenter reports from Ashton Gate
Report: Bristol Rugby 32-23 Ealing Trailfinders
Sunday, October 1st 2017
Rhodri Williams struck in the dying stages as Bristol Rugby left it late to snatch a 32-23 victory over Ealing Trailfinders and claim top spot in the Greene King IPA Championship.
Williams scorched over on 76 minutes after a dazzling break and offload from replacement Mat Protheroe had laid it on a plate for the scrum half, while Billy Searle’s angled penalty on the stroke of full-time ensured the visitors would leave Ashton Gate empty-handed.
Pat Lam’s side had led 22-13 at the interval thanks to first-half scores from Ross McMillan, Alapati Leuia and Steven Luatua, but a try from Alun Walker – to go with Will Davis’ first half effort and 13-points from the ever-reliable boot of Peter Lydon – turned the game on its head.
Yellow cards for Nicky Thomas and Max Crumpton saw the hosts reduced to 13 men midway through the second half, while Lydon’s 67th-minute penalty looked to have earned victory for the visitors.
But Protheroe’s late brilliance and Searle’s last-gasp penalty sealed a fourth-successive bonus-point win for Bristol and saw them leapfrog Ealing into top spot.
Ross McMillan handed Bristol the perfect start when he drove through the melee to touch down on five minutes, after the hosts’ maul had rumbled towards the whitewash. Searle added the conversion before another left-footer, Ealing’s Peter Lydon, got the visitors on the scoreboard with a trademark long-range effort.
The young Bristol fly-half replied in kind with a simpler penalty from 30 metres, before Tom Varndell’s deft offload – after a pacey surge down the left – located the supporting Alapati Leuia to dive over for Bristol’s second try.
Ealing were denied an immediate response when Luke Carter was adjudged held up over the Bristol line, but the visitors went one better on 28 minutes when Will Davis shunted over from close range, with Lydon adding the extras.
A second Lydon penalty closed the gap to two points minutes before the interval, but it was Bristol who had the final say of the half, as Searle danced his way through the Ealing defence and fed Luatua for a first try in Bristol colours.
A scoreless start to the second half gave way to a frenetic finish, as Ealing took advantage of yellow cards for Nicky Thomas and Max Crumpton – the first for persistent scrum infringements, the second for an alleged dangerous tackle – with a try from Alun Walker and two more successful kicks from the boot of Lydon, to edge a 22-23 lead.
And that looked to be enough for Ealing as the clock ticked down, but Protheroe and Williams dealt the killer blow with six minutes remaining to make it five wins from five for Pat Lam’s side.
Cometh the hour, cometh the Mat.
Replacement Protheroe's sparkling break and offload for Rhodri Wiliams' match-winning try sealed a dramatic win for Bristol and introduced the youngster to the Ashton Gate faithful - and Sky Sports cameras - in eye-catching style. One for the scrapbook for the pacey back, sensational.
Man of the match: Steven Luatua
Big games call for big players - and the All Black international is just that.
Luatua was at the heart of everything positive for the men in blue and white hoops, scoring once and landing some huge shots in defence.
The back-row forward latched on to a neat inside pass from Billy Searle to cross minute before half-time, before series of crucial turnovers and lineout wins helped seal an important result.
Photo of the match:
Social media post of the day:
Bristol Rugby: Jordan Williams; Luke Morahan, Alapati Leiua, Tusi Pisi (c), Tom Varndell; Billy Searle, Rhodri Williams; Jack O’Connell, Ross McMillan, Nicky Thomas, Joe Joyce, Chris Vui, Steven Luatua, Dan Thomas, Jack Lam.
Replacements: Max Crumpton, Soane Tonga’uiha, Alex Giltrow, Jordan Crane, Andy Uren, Will Hurrell, Mat Protheroe.
Ealing Trailfinders: Peter Lydon, Seb Stegmann, Piers O’Conor, Lewis Robling, Miles Mantella, Aaron Penberthy, Luke Carter, Will Davis, Alun Walker, Lewis Thiede, Glen Townson (c), Barney Maddison, Rayn Smid, Andrew Durutalo, Mark Bright.
Replacements: Matt Cornish, James Gibbons, Mark Tampin, Harry Casson, Dan Temm, Calum Waters, Will Harries.
- McMillan, Luatua, Williams, Leiua
- Searle (3)
- Searle (2)
- Yellow Cards:
- Thomas, Crumpton
- Davis, Walker
- Lydon (2)
- Lydon (3)
- Yellow Cards: