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Report: Bristol Rugby 28-29 Worcester Warriors

Bristol will go into the second-leg of the Championship play-off final trailing by one point, after Niall Annett’s last-gasp converted try saw Worcester edge a pulsating contest at Ashton Gate.

Tries from David Lemi (2) and Mitch Eadie, together with 10 points from the boot of Gavin Henson and a Nicky Robinson penalty, had seen Bristol lead 28-22 with seconds left on the clock – but Annett powered over from close range and Ryan Lamb slotted home the conversion, to earn a dramatic win for Worcester.

Bristol took the lead two minutes in courtesy of a Gavin Henson penalty.

The Welshman was just wide with a long range effort shortly after, before the visitors crossed for the first try of the night when flanker Sam Betty powered over on the back of a driving maul.

But Bristol hit back minutes later, as Mitch Eadie scythed through the Worcester defence to touch down, after Matthew Morgan’s dazzling break had carried the hosts into the 22.

Henson added the extras to give his side a five point lead – and Bristol were then reduced to 14 men as Gaston Cortes was sent to the sin bin for an infringement close to his own line.

From the resulting scrum, Worcester retook the lead with a penalty try – and things soon got worse for Bristol, when front-row replacement Anthony Perenise became the second Bristol player to be sent to the bin.

Cooper Vuna capitalised on the numerical advantage to score Worcester’s third, before David Lemi hit back for Bristol on thirty-four minutes after a surging break from Eadie, with Henson adding the extras.

But Worcester had the final say of the half courtesy of Tom Bigg’s try, to head into the break leading 17-22.

The second-half was a far cagier affair and Henson closed the deficit with a penalty eight minutes in – but the centre suffered a nasty injury ten minutes from time and was stretchered off.

Bristol retook the lead eight minutes from time when David Lemi scooped up a loose ball to cross in the corner.

Nicky Robinson – who missed the conversion from out wide - then stroked over a penalty to extend the lead to six points.

But Annett powered over with the final play to give the Warriors a slender lead heading into the second-leg.

Bristol Rugby:

Jack Wallace; Charlie Amesbury, Gareth Maule, Gavin Henson, David Lemi, Matthew Morgan, Dwayne Peel (c); Kyle Traynor, Chris Brooker, Gaston Cortes, Glen Townson, Mark Sorenson, Ryan Jones, Jack Lam, Mitch Eadie.

Replacements: Max Crumpton (for Chris Brooker, 70 mins), Anthony Perenise (for Gaston Cortes, 70 mins), Ben Glynn (for Glen Townson, 50 mins), Marco Mama (for Ryan Jones, 50 mins), Tom Kessell (for Dwayne Peel, 71 mins), Nicky Robinson, Jack Tovey (for Gavin Henson, 70mins).

Worcester Warriors:

Chris Pennell, Tom Biggs, Alex Grove, Ryan Mills, Cooper Vuna, Ryan Lamb, JB Bruzulier; Val Rapava Ruskin, Agustin Creevy, Nick Schonert, Jon Thomas, James Percival, Mike Williams, Sam Betty, GJ van Velze (C)

Replacements: Niall Annett (for Agustin Creevy, 74 mins, Ryan Bower (for Val Rapava Ruskin, 62 mins), Joe Rees (for Nick Schonert, 72mins), Leonardo Senatore (for James Percival, 64 mins), Jamie Shillcock, Ravai Fatiaki, Ben Howard (for Cooper Vuna, 73 mins).

Attendance: 12,010

Airbus UK Man of the Match: Mitch Eadie

Referee: Wayne Barnes