- The Championship
- Sunday, September 3rd 2017
- Ashton Gate
Will Carpenter reports from Ashton Gate
Report: Bristol Rugby 26-15 Hartpury RFC
Sunday, September 3rd 2017
Bristol Rugby kicked off the new Championship season with a hard-fought 26-15 victory over Hartpury at a rain-soaked Ashton Gate on Sunday.
Tries from Luke Morahan and Max Crumpton - together with 16 points from the boot of Ian Madigan - sealed victory for Pat Lam’s side, who had trailed 7-8 at half time.
Mat Gilbert and Mike Flook touched down in either half for Hartpury’s first Championship scores, with Jacob Perry’s penalty and James Williams’ conversion completing the visitors’ scoring.
Luke Morahan made the perfect start to his league debut when he collected Ian Madigan’s cross-field kick to canter over in the right-hand corner on six minutes, with Madigan’s conversion opening up a 7-0 lead.
But Hartpury hit back and after earning two penalties at the scrum, it was their maul that did the damage as Mat Gilbert crashed over at the back of a powerful surge.
Perry’s conversion was wide but the fly half made amends minutes later, stroking over a penalty after Soane Tonga’uiha – on as a head injury replacement for Ryan Bevington – had been sent to the sin-bin for a scrum infringement.
Pat Lam’s side were soon reduced to 13 men when Sam Jeffries was penalised metres from his own line as Hartpury piled on the pressure before half time.
From the resulting lineout, the visitors thought they had their second try when another maul drove its way over the whitewash. Referee Matthew O’Grady consulted the TMO and after a long delay, the ball was adjudged held up.
Back to a full allocation early in the second half, Ian Madigan’s 42nd minute penalty restored Bristol’s lead, before a second effort from the Irishman made it 13-8 just seven minutes into the half.
Not for the first time in the match, Hartpury came close to their second score when Elias Caven latched on to loose pass inside the hosts’ half and hacked through, but the former Bristol wing was unable to control the grounding with the line at his mercy.
Madigan soon made him pay with a third penalty to extend the lead to 16-8, before a fourth opened up an 11-point lead with eight minutes left on the clock.
With time ticking away, Max Crumpton put the game to bed two minutes from time, powering over from close range to seal victory for Pat Lam’s side while Madigan maintained his 100% record from the tee with a sixth successful kick of the afternoon.
There was still time for Hartpury to grab a deserved second, as Mike Flook burrowed his way to the line with the final act of the game, but it was nothing more than a consolation as Bristol kicked off the season with a 26-15 victory.
Bristol Rugby: Jordan Williams; Luke Morahan, Will Hurrell, Tusi Pisi, Tom Varndell; Ian Madigan, Rhodri Williams; Ryan Bevington, Jason Harris-Wright, Sione Faletau, Sam Jeffries, Joe Latta (c), Steven Luatua, Dan Thomas, Nick Haining.
Replacements: Max Crumpton, Soane Tonga’uiha, Tyler Gendall, Jordan Crane, Ryan Glynn, Billy Searle, Mat Protheroe.
Hartpury RFC: Mike Wilcox, Harry Cochrane, Steve Leonard, Luke Eves, Elias Caven, Jacob Perry, Harry Randall; Dan Murphy, Will Tanner, Rupert Harden, BJ Edwards, Rhys Oakley (c), Rob Langley, Mat Gilbert, Darrel Dyer.
Replacements: Luke Stratford, Mike Flook, Tom Heard, Alex Craig, Iain Grieve, James Williams, George Boulton.
Ian Madigan's hat-trick of penalties early in the second half saw Bristol regain control and open up an eight-point lead, having trailed 7-8 at half-time. The Irishman kicked six out of six from the kicking tee for a 16-point haul.
Man of the match: Rhodri Williams
The Welsh scrum half was awarded man of the match by the Sky Sports commentary team after an impressive display in the number nine shirt.
Williams marshalled play expertly in wet conditions, finding space in the back field with a range of box kicks, before being replaced late on by Ryan Glynn.
Photo of the match:
Social media post:
- Morahan, Crumpton
- Madigan (2)
- Madigan (4)
- Yellow Cards:
- Jeffries, Tonga'uiha
- Gilbert, Flook
- Yellow Cards: