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Review Of 2016 - Part One

Last-gasp victories, unlikely heroes and play-off final glory - we take a look back on the first half of 2016 in part one of our Review of the Year.

January

The year began in unspectacular fashion with a hard-fought 16-10 Championship victory over Nottingham in boggy conditions at Lady Bay. Tom Varndell crossed twice for Bristol while Adrian Jarvis kicked two penalties.

British and Irish Cup wins over Scarlets Select XV and Ulster followed, before a Mitch Eadie brace helped Bristol to a 35-12 victory over Jersey at Ashton Gate.

February

Eadie continued his try scoring form with another two in a 36-17 triumph at Rotherham, with Jack Lam, Ben Mosses and Tom Varndell also touching down.

AT THE DOUBLE: Mitch Eadie is congratulated on his second try at Rotherham (Photo: JMP UK).

Another nine tries followed as Bristol thrashed Ealing 63-10 at Ashton Gate the following week, while an impressive 23-7 win at Yorkshire signed off February in style.

March

March began with a 29-24 triumph over Cornish Pirates at Ashton Gate and finished with a thrilling last-gasp victory over Doncaster Knights, as Bristol went 13-points clear at the top.

Tom Varndell’s last-gasp try handed the visitors a nailbiting 31-29 victory on Easter Sunday.

ALL SMILES: Bristol celebrate Tom Varndell's last-gasp try at Doncaster Knights (Photo: JMP UK). 

April

Bristol Rugby guaranteed top spot in the Championship with a hard-fought 21-16 win over London Scottish in early April - and a week later, Callum Sheedy, on his Championship debut, announced himself to the Bristol fans with a last-gasp penalty to snatch a 24-22 victory over bottom-side Moseley. This wasn’t to be the last Bristol fans would see of the young fly half in the 2015/16 campaign.

MATCH WINNER: Callum Sheedy strokes over a last-minute penalty to seal a 24-22 victory over Moseley (Photo: JMP UK). 

The following week was a little more straightforward; as tries from Ryan Edwards (2), Jack Lam, Gaston Cortes, Luke Arscott and David Lemi secured a bonus point victory over Bedford at Goldington Road.

May

Callum Sheedy had only made his Championship debut in April, but May was certainly a month to remember for the academy fly half.

After Bristol had coasted into the final with 90-35 aggregate victory over Bedford Blues in the play-off semi final, Sheedy kicked thirteen points – while David Lemi, Ross McMillan and Ben Glynn touched down – in a 28-13 first-leg win against Doncaster at Castle Park.

SUPER SKIPPER: David Lemi goes over against Doncaster Knights in the first leg of the play-off final (Photo: JMP UK).

And then came a night to remember, as Bristol sealed promotion back to the Aviva Premiership after a seven-year absence, with a 60-47 aggregate win – a 32-34 loss on the night.

Sheedy continued his rise to prominence with a man of the match performance, kicking 22 points to go with tries from Will Cliff and James Phillips.

Will Hurrell, who would go on to sign for the club later in the summer, scored the opening try of the night but it wasn't enough for a spirited Doncaster side at jam-packed Ashton Gate. 

PROMOTION: The squad celebrate promotion at Ashton Gate after an aggregate victory over Doncaster Knights. 

Off the field, Jordan Crane signed a three-year deal at the club after agreeing a switch from Leicester Tigers and Jack Lam was named Greene King IPA Championship player of the year. Bristol also announced the signing of Tusi Pisi from Japanese Super Rugby franchise, Sunwolves.

June

Preparations for the Aviva Premiership began at the end of the June as the players reported back for pre-season training, with new faces on and off the field. Former Welsh international Jonathan Thomas joined as defence coach ahead of the new campaign and USA centre, Thretton Palamo signed from Saracens.

Check out part two tomorrow, as we reflect on the opening months of the 2016/17 Aviva Premiership season.

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