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REPORT: Bristol United 29 - 31 Gloucester United

Bristol United slipped to their first defeat of the Aviva A League campaign after going down 31-29 to Gloucester United on Sunday.

United secured both a losing and try bonus-point from the game, courtesy of scores from Giorgi Nemsadze (2), Auguy Slowik and Chris Brooker - but four second-half tries from the visitors saw them take the spoils, after United had led 19-7 at the break.

Billy Searle had the chance to rescue a draw for the hosts with the final kick of the game, but his conversion - after Nemsadze's late score - drifted narrowly wide. 

In a match played in front of a vocal crowd at Taunton RFC – to mark the expansion of Bristol Rugby’s academy boundaries – Bristol stormed into a 7-0 lead as early as the fourth minute, with Giorgi Nemsadze making it three tries in as many Aviva A League games, picking a neat line off Billy Searle after Andy Uren had broken clear from a quickly taken penalty.

Searle converted from underneath the posts and repeated the feat from a much tougher angle ten minutes later, after Chris Brooker had bundled over at the back of a driving maul.

But Gloucester hit back with a fine score of their own, when Harry Robinson rounded the covering defence to touch down under the posts after Tom Denton’s surging break down the blindside. Protheroe converted for a 14-7 score line.

Shortly before half-time, Bristol added a third try courtesy of wing Elias Caven. From a centre-field scrum, Uren fed Luke Arscott and the full back’s grubber kick was perfectly weighted for the onrushing Caven to dot down in the corner. Searle’s conversion drifted across the face of the posts as Bristol took a 12-point lead into the interval.

But the second half was a very different affair and Gloucester struck first with a try from Matt Protheroe, after Dan Thomas had stripped the ball in the tackle. Protheroe also added the extras to close the gap to 19-14.

Five minutes later, the visitors were in front when Joe Batley powered over from close range and Protheroe’s conversion made it 19-21.

Giorgi Nemsadze was then sent to the sin-bin and Gloucester soon capitalised on their numerical advantage with a second try from Harry Robinson.

On the hour mark, Bristol fought their way back and a slick handling move down the left-hand side saw Auguy Slowik dot down in the corner. Searle’s conversion was narrowly wide meaning Gloucester took a two-point lead into the final 20 minutes.

After Searle was off target with a drop-goal attempt, Gloucester extended their lead through Ben Vellacott, who collected his own kick ahead to slide over and give his side a seven-point advantage.

Bristol almost salvaged a draw with the final play of the game, as Nemsadze rounded off a flowing move to score out wide – but Searle’s last-gasp conversion faded across the face of the posts and the home side were forced to settle for two losing bonus-points.

Bristol United: Luke Arscott; Auguy Slowik, Thretton Palamo (Maule 50), Nick Carpenter (Newey 78), Elias Caven; Billy Searle, Andy Uren (Haynes 78); Jack O’Connell (Dawe 50), Chris Brooker (Hawkins 20), Jamal Ford-Robinson (Hall 50), Giorgi Nemsadze, Sam Jeffries (Edwards 62), Nick Koster, Olly Robinson, Nick Fenton-Wells (c) (Smid 40).

Replacements: Rob Hawkins, Ollie Dawe, James Hall, BJ Edwards, Rayn Smid, Alex Haynes (Old Colstonians), James Newey, Gareth Maule.

Gloucester United: Carwyn Penny; Tom Seabrook, Tom Hudson, Elliott Creed, Harry Robinson; Mat Protheroe, Callum Braley (capt); Cameron Orr, Greg Jackson, Josh McNulty; Joe Batley, Tom Denton; Lewis Ludlow, Dan Thomas, Gareth Evans.

Replacements: Joe Mullis, Ciaran Knight, Nicky Thomas, Freddie Clarke, Harry Wilson, Charlie Beckett, Ben Vellacott, Dan Cole.