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Report: London Irish 62-5 Bristol United

An experimental Bristol United side went down to defeat at Hazelwood against a London Irish team containing five full internationals in its squad.

The match, which was played in persistent rain, was the first leg of the sixth and seventh place play-off in the Southern Conference of the A League.

Despite the final score, the visitors battled hard and were always competitive against strong opposition.

The scrum went particularly well with skipper Jack O’Connell in charge, while second rows Sam Tiley and Max Cresswell impressed in the lineouts.

Irish mounted a wave of attacks in the early stages, and they scored after six minutes when centre Ollie Hassell-Collins crossed the line following a break from Italian international Luke McLean.

Veteran winger Topsy Ojo sped over six minutes later, and the first quarter ended with skipper Fergus Mulchrone scoring after the visitors had failed to deal with a kick ahead.

Scrum half Ben Meehan added one conversion. The United had few opportunities to shine in the first half, although scrum half Reiss Cullen looked lively and made one particularly impressive 40 metre break.

Meanwhile No.8 George Kloska tackled well and on one occasion ripped the ball from Hassell-Collins as he tried to mount an attack.

However, Irish kept pressing, and they added two further first half tries through Mulchrone and winger Ben Ransom.

Meehan’s second conversion put his side 29-0 up at the break. The home side scored at regular intervals during the second half, with Australian hooker Sala Fainga’a, and replacements Jacob Atkins and Todd Gleave all touching down, while Ojo and Ransom added to their first half tries.

Ransom converted his own score, while replacement Brendan McKibbin landed three successful kicks.

But the United claimed a thoroughly deserved try on 70 minutes when replacement Ben Gompels charged over in the right corner after a series of lineouts.

Outside half Sam Cappaert, who looked impressive on his debut, was unlucky to see his conversion attempt bounce wide off a post.

By Mark Hoskins, club historian.

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