- The Championship
- Sunday, March 4th 2018
- Ashton Gate
Will Carpenter reports from Ashton Gate
Report: Bristol Rugby 34-38 Jersey Reds
Sunday, March 4th 2018
Bristol Rugby slipped to a first league defeat of the season – and in doing so, fell short of surpassing a club record – as they went down 34-38 at the hands of Jersey Reds at Ashton Gate on Sunday.
A victory would have seen Pat Lam’s men chalk up their 17th Championship win in a row – a new club record in a league season – but the hosts were left with nothing more than two bonus-points after a below-par display in BS3.
First-half tries from Steven Luatua – who limped off shortly after – and Alapati Leiua were cancelled out by Scott Van Breda’s double and further scores from Jerry Sexton and Kieran Hardy, as Jersey took advantage of a Siale Piutau’s yellow card to hold an eight-point lead at the break.
And the visitors tightened their hold on the match early in the second half, when Tom Pincus intercepted to race in untouched.
Jake Woolmore was sent to the sin-bin, but Brendan Cope added a penalty to his four first-half conversions to extend the Jersey lead to 18 points with 20 minutes remaining.
Rhodri Williams reduced the deficit with a try 13 minutes from time, before Jack Macfarlane became the third player in the match to be shown a yellow card, as Bristol looked to snatch a dramatic victory late on.
Sam Jeffries crossed in the left-hand corner for Bristol’s fourth of the afternoon – sealing the bonus-point in the process – but time ran out on the hosts’ charge, as Jersey emerged the victors from a high-scoring contest.
It took just three minutes for Bristol to open the scoring at Ashton Gate, as Steven Luatua stretched over from close range after Jersey had illegally hauled down the hosts maul just metres short of the line.
Jersey responded with a first of the match for full-back, Scott Van Breda, who capitalised on a turnover in the Bristol 22 to dot down out wide.
Ian Madigan’s 17th-minute penalty was quickly cancelled out by Jerry Sexton’s try, splintering off the Jersey maul to score his side’s second midway through the half.
Pat Lam’s side looked to be hitting their stride when Siale Piutau ghosted through a hole in the Jersey midfield to send Alapati Leiua in at the corner - but straight from the kick-off, Kieran Hardy raced in under the posts after disruptive work at the breakdown from James Voss.
Madigan’s second penalty of the afternoon reduced Bristol’s deficit to just one point six minutes before the break, but after Siale Piutau was yellow carded for an adjudged dangerous tackle, Van Breda darted over for his second and Jersey’s fourth on the stroke of half-time.
Jersey’s lead quickly became 15 points when Tom Pincus picked off Tusi Pisi’s pass to stroll in for a fifth on 52 minutes.
Jake Woolmore was then shown a yellow card for cynical play following a storming break from Joe Joyce, before Brandan Cope’s penalty gave Jersey an 18-point cushion on the hour mark.
Rhodri Williams pulled one back for Bristol courtesy of a smart lineout move, before Jack Macfarlane replaced Woolmore in the sin-bin with just four minutes remaining.
Sam Jeffries’ late score sealed a four-try bonus-point, as well as putting the hosts in losing bonus-point range, but it was too little, too late for Pat Lam’s men as Jersey held on for the win.
With Bristol trailing by eight points and making an energised start to the second half, the hosts looked to have worked an overlap when moving the ball right to left. But as Pisi looked to release his outside backs, Tom Pincus raced in to snatch an interception and open up a 15-point lead for the visitors.
Photo of the match:
Man of the match: Luke Morahan
Even in a losing cause, the Australian wing was a standout performer for Bristol Rugby - impressing in attack and defence for Pat Lam's side.
The Wallaby international was impressive under an aerial bombardment, and caused the Jersey defence a number of issues with ball in hand throughout the 80 minutes.
A late charge downfield almost led to a Bristol winner, but it wasn't to be for the hosts, who suffered a first league defeat of the season.
Social media post of the match:
Bristol Rugby: J Williams, Morahan, Piutau, Pisi (c), Leiua; Madigan, Uren (R Williams 34); Tonga’uiha (O’Connell 54), Harris-Wright (Fenton-Wells 54), Cortes (Lay 54), Jeffries, Latta, Luatua (Joyce 8), Lam, Haining (Thomas 50).
Replacements: Fenton-Wells, O’Connell, Lay, Joyce, Thomas, R Williams, Sheedy.
Jersey Reds: Van Breda (co-capt), Pincus, Ma'afu, Best (Eastwell 62), Worrall, Cope, Hardy; Woolmore (co-capt), Selway (Macfarlane 54), Armstrong, Sexton (Kolo'ofa'I 46), Voss, Bartle (Godfrey 64), Joyce, Argyle.
Replacements: Macfarlane, Godfrey, Clarey, Kolo'ofa'i, Upfield; Dudley, Eastwell.
- Jeffries, Luatua, Leiua, Williams
- Madigan (4)
- Madigan (2)
- Yellow Cards:
- Sexton, Hardy, Pincus, van Breda (2)
- Cope (5)
- Yellow Cards:
- Woolmore, MacFarlane