- British and Irish Cup
- Friday, December 8th 2017
- Ashton Gate
Will Carpenter reports from Ashton Gate
Report: Bristol Rugby 35-46 Leinster 'A'
Friday, December 8th 2017
Bristol Rugby fell to a second successive defeat in the British and Irish Cup, as Leinster ‘A’ withstood a late fightback to take the spoils in a high-scoring affair at Ashton Gate.
Tom Varndell, Mat Protheroe and debutant Sam Graham crossed for the hosts inside the opening half hour, but Pat Lam’s men found themselves behind at the break as Gavin Mullin grabbed the first of his brace, while Max Deegan and Bryan Byrne crossed in quick succession to give the Irish side a 27-20 half-time lead.
Mullins’ second and a 47th-minute score from Ian Nagle saw Leinster surge further ahead after the break, before Peadar Timmins dealt the knockout blow 12 minutes from time.
Bristol rallied in the closing stages and narrowed the gap with tries from Jack Tovey and Rhodri Williams, after Leinster scrum half Charlie Rock was sent to the sin bin.
Cathal Marsh replaced Rock on the naughty step as time ticked away, but the hosts were unable to capitalise again and had to make do with just a try bonus-point from an action-packed night.
On a freezing cold night in BS3, it was Leinster who took an early lead as Cathal Marsh fired over two penalties inside the first five minutes.
Sam Graham capped an impressive competitive debut with his first try for the club, splintering off a driving Bristol maul to touch down on 11 minutes, with Sheedy adding the extras.
The fly half repeated the feat just four minutes later, when Graham turned provider to send Tom Varndell in at the left-hand corner, after Lemi’s surging break had Leinster on the retreat.
But the visitors soon regained the lead with two tries in three minutes, as Gavin Mullin and Max Deegan went over to open up a six-point lead on the half-hour mark.
Bristol’s response was immediate, with Tovey’s soft hands locating a speeding Mat Protheroe to race in untouched.
Sheedy’s conversion edged Bristol in front, but that wasn’t the end of the first-half scoring, as Bryan Byrne crashed over on the stroke of half time to give Leinster a six-point lead at the interval.
They wasted little time in extending their advantage when play restarted, with another quick-fire double – from Mullin and Nagle – giving Noel McNamara’s side some breathing space.
Charlie Rock saw yellow for an infringement at the breakdown, but it didn’t halt the Leinster charge, as Peadar Timmins rounded off another long-range effort to all but seal the win.
Billy Searle sent Jack Tovey over two minutes from time before finding Rhodri Williams with a pinpoint kick, as the hosts reduced the deficit late on – but they were unable to capitalise on Cathal Marsh’s late sin-binning, as Leinster held on for a bonus-point win.
Bristol trailed by just seven points at half time, but found themselves 18 points behind just eight minutes into the second half, as a quick-fire double from Gavin Mullin and Ian Nagle gave Leinster a comfortable lead at Ashton Gate.
It was a lead they would not relinquish, as the Irish province maintained their 100% record in the competition.
Man of the match: Nick Fenton-Wells
In his first competitive appearance at hooker, Fenton-Wells' set-piece work was hugely impressive in a losing cause.
The South African was 100% at the lineout and played his part in a strong Bristol scrum against a powerful Leinster 'A' side.
Fenton-Wells moved into the back row late on, but it was in the front row that he impressed on Friday night. Plenty of positives to build on.
Photo of the match:
Social media post of the day:
Bristol Rugby: Mat Protheroe; David Lemi, Alapati Leiua, Siale Piutau (c), Tom Varndell; Callum Sheedy, Andy Uren; Ryan Bevington, Nick Fenton-Wells, Sione Faletau, Giorgi Nemsadze, Joe Batley, Sam Graham, Olly Robinson, Jack Lam.
Replacements: Ben Gompels, Jack Cosgrove, Ollie Dawe, Joe Joyce, Rhodri Williams, Billy Searle, Jack Tovey.
Leinster A: Ciarán Frawley, Jack Kelly, Gavin Mullin, Conor O’Brien, Tommy O’Brien, Cathal Marsh, Charlie Rock; Peter Dooley, Bryan Byrne (c), Vakh Abdaladze, Josh Murphy, Ian Nagle, Peadar Timmins, Will Connors, Max Deegan.
Replacements: Ronan Kelleher, Ed Byrne, Cormac Daly, Caelan Doris, Hugh O’Sullivan, Ian Fitzpatrick, Hugo Keenan.
- Graham, Varndell, Protheroe, Williams, Tovey
- Sheedy (3), Searle (2)
- Yellow Cards:
- Byrne (2), Nagle, Timmins, Mullin (2)
- Marsh (5)
- Marsh (2)
- Yellow Cards:
- Rock, Marsh