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Report: Bristol United 26-42 UK Armed Forces

A crowd of nearly 3,000 enjoyed an 11-try charity clash between Bristol United and UK Armed Forces, in support of the Royal British Legion on Wednesday night.

A United side, featuring eight players from the Bristol Combination and three from the Academy U18s, squandered a 14-point half-time lead to slip to a 42-26 defeat at Ashton Gate.

The hosts led 21-7 at the interval thanks to tries from Iwan Hughes, George Perkins and James Newey, with Matt Dwyer pulling one back for the Armed Forces.

That proved to be the catalyst for a stirring comeback, as the visitors ran in six second half tries, courtesy of Toby Mann, Chris Budgen, Nathaneal Titchard-Jones, Chris Leathem and Lewis Bean, with James Dixon kicking seven from seven for a 14-point haul.

Tom Hargan crossed for United’s fourth late on, but it wasn’t enough to prevent defeat for the hosts.

Iwan Hughes applied the finishing touches to a neat handling move on 13 minutes, after great work from Will Capon in the build-up, to give United an early lead.

Marcus Nel (Weston RFC) takes on the UK Armed Forces defence (JMP UK).

George Perkins doubled the hosts’ advantage three minutes later, ghosting through a hole in the Forces midfield to touch down for his first Bristol try, before Dwyer powered over at the tail of a driving maul to get the Forces on the board.

James Newey collected a ricochet from his own grubber kick to score United’s third three minutes before the break, before converting his own score.

But back came the Armed Forces, who levelled the scores early in the second half with a quick-fire double from Mann and Budgen. Dixon converted both and repeated the feat on 56 minutes, after Titchard-Jones had crossed for his side’s fourth.

Leathem intercepted a loose pass to score the visitors’ sixth, before Tom Hargan collected Newey’s kick ahead to bring United back within striking distance.

But Lewis Bean’s last-gasp score, converted by Dixon, rounded off an action-packed evening in BS3 and completed a resounding win for the UK Armed Forces.

Bristol United: George Perkins; Tom Hargan, Marcus Nel, James Newey, Iwan Hughes; Ryan Glynn, Reiss Cullen; Jack Cosgrove, Will Capon (Academy U18s and BGS), Alex Giltrow, Kei Berg (Avonmouth RFC), Ehize Ehizode, James Dun (c), Fergus Manners (Old Colstonians RFC), Jack Weston (Keynsham RFC).

Replacements: Sam Evans (Thornbury RFC), Tyler Gendall, Ollie Dawe, Harley Foley (Clevedon RFC), Ned Smith (Academy U18s and BGS), Kieran Hill (Taunton RFC), Charlie Reynolds (Avonmouth OBs RFC), Will Hines.

UK Armed Forces: LCpl Chris Leathem, Sig John Davetanivalu, LSgt Tom Hiscock, Sig Rav Fatiaki, Cpl Toby Mann, Cpl James Dixon, NA (AH) Cory Moore, Sgt Nathaneal Titchard-Jones, LSgt Matt Dwyer, LCpl Chris Budgen, Musn Edd Pascoe, Cpl Lewis Bean, L(AS) Samuel Matavesi, Fg Offr Rob Bell (Capt), Cpl Dave Fairbrother.

Replacements: Fg Offr Stu Philpott, Cpl Gareth Smith, LCpl Darius Hamilton, Cpl Ross Parkins, Cpl Matt Dawson, Cpl Morgan Evans, Mne Nathan Huntley, Bdr Owain Davies.