- The Championship
- Saturday, October 28th 2017
- Stade Santander (St Peter's)
Will Carpenter reports from Stade Santander (St Peter's)
Report: Jersey Reds 17-36 Bristol Rugby
Sunday, October 29th 2017
Rhodri Williams’ six-minute hat-trick inspired Bristol Rugby to a seventh successive Greene King IPA Championship win, as they overcame a spirited Jersey fightback to record a 36-17 victory at Stade Santander International.
Just five minutes and 45 seconds separated the scrum half’s first and third tries in a breathtaking opening 40 in St Peter, as Pat Lam’s side secured the bonus point inside half an hour to take a 29-5 lead into the break.
Steven Luatua’s 21st-minute opener set Bristol on their way, before the skipper signed off proceedings – and another man of the match display - with a fine individual score late on. Nine points from the boot of Ian Madigan and two from Billy Searle completed the visitors’ scoring.
The home side refused to lie down and hit back with tries from Tom Pincus, Nick Selway and Joel Dudley, but it wasn’t enough to take the gloss off an impressive away performance from Bristol, who maintain their 100% league record.
Head Coach Pat Lam made seven changes to the side that beat London Scottish in early October, with Jordan Williams, Luke Morahan, Tusi Pisi and Rhodri Williams returning to a backline that included six internationals.
Soane Tonga’uiha and Nicky Thomas came into the front row, while Sam Jeffries recovered from a hip injury to start alongside Steven Luatua, who captained the side for the first time.
Fly half Ian Madigan judged a swirling cross-wind to perfection to kick Bristol into a 14th-minute lead, after strong work at scrum time from Nicky Thomas.
Jersey were then reduced to 14-men when Rory Pitman was adjudged to have pulled down a maul inside the hosts’ 22 – and Bristol took immediate advantage, as Luatua dotted down from the subsequent lineout.
Madigan converted from out wide and repeated the feat five minutes later, after Luatua and Vui had combined to send Williams in for the first of his six-minute treble.
Lock Joe Joyce was the next to assist the free-scoring number nine, surging forward in the outside channels before locating Williams with a pinpoint inside pass.
And the scrum half completed his hat-trick on 31 minutes - the seventh in the Greene King IPA Championship this season and the fifth by a Bristol Rugby player - running another superb supporting line to collect Luke Morahan’s pass and cruise in untouched from 30 metres.
Jersey responded on the stroke of half time when Tom Pincus rose highest to collect Jason Worrall’s cross-field kick and dot down in the right-hand corner. And the visitors bagged another six minutes into the second half, as Nick Selway crashed over from close range, after Chris Vui had been sin-binned for an offence at the previous lineout.
Replacement Joel Dudley finished off a sweeping handling move to score Jersey’s third on 58 minutes and set up a fascinating finale. But that was as good as it got for the home side, as the highly-impressive Luatua galloped clear before selling an outrageous dummy to score from 40 metres and put the game to bed.
Billy Searle’s conversion opened up a 19-point lead with just ten minutes remaining, while strong defensive work in the closing stages ensured the Bristol line wouldn’t be breached for a fourth time.
Three tries in six minutes is enough to swing any game – and Rhodri Williams’ try-scoring heroics saw Bristol open up a 24-point lead at half time. It was a remarkable spell of play, as the scrum half’s intelligent support play saw him get on the end of three free-flowing Bristol moves.
Man of the match: Steven Luatua
This was an absolute masterclass from the All Black international, who captained the side for the first time in St Peter.
The number eight scored once in either half to lead Bristol to a seventh successive league win – the second of which saw him charge 40 metres downfield before selling an outrageous dummy inside the Jersey 22.
But it wasn’t just his attacking play that impressed, Luatua’s defensive work – especially at the breakdown – allowed the visitors to turn the ball over and clear their lines on numerous occasions.
Photo of the match:
Social media post of the day:
Bristol Rugby: Jordan Williams; Luke Morahan, Alapati Leiua, Tusi Pisi, Tom Varndell; Ian Madigan, Rhodri Williams; Soane Tonga’uiha, Jason Harris-Wright, Nicky Thomas, Joe Joyce, Chris Vui, Sam Jeffries, Dan Thomas, Steven Luatua (c).
Replacements: Ben Gompels, Jack O’Connell, Alex Giltrow, Nick Fenton-Wells, Andy Uren, Billy Searle, Mat Protheroe.
Jersey Reds: Scott van Breda (c), Tom Pincus, Apakuki Ma'afu, Mark Best, Auguy Slowik, Brendan Cope, Kieran Hardy; Jake Woolmore, Nick Selway, Jake Armstrong, James Voss, Jerry Sexton, Matt Rogerson, Conor Joyce, Rory Pitman.
Replacements: Jared Saunders, Roy Godfrey, Leeroy Atalifo, Uili Kolo'ofa'i, Rory Bartle; Joel Dudley, Jason Worrall.
- Selway, Pincus, Dudley
- Yellow Cards:
- Luatua (2), Williams (3)
- Madigan (3), Searle
- Yellow Cards: