RECORD CROWD, EXILES NILLED
By Ian Todd
December 27 2015
A grey afternoon saw grey opponents crushed 35 points to nil. A record Championship regular season crowd of 11,117 was treated to an impressive festive performance from Bristol. The bonus point try came up within half an hour and Bristol, instead of conceding points prevented London Welsh from scoring any of their own. It was far from a perfect performance but the relegated Premiership side was swept aside and able to offer little in return
Bristol kicked off the game and Welsh gave away an early penalty. Bristol surged forward and a great pass from Adrian Jarvis released a backline that showed the threat it offered from the very outset. Jarvis again got things moving soon after with a nicely judged chip over the defence that was claimed superbly by David Lemi only for him to be penalised for holding on. The Exiles made a good touch from the resulting penalty only to find themselves turned over following the lineout by some fine counter rucking from Bristol. The clearance was good and the attempted return from Welsh sailed out on the full. Unfortunately it was then Bristol’s turn to be out rucked and they were fortunate to escape when the Welsh kick ahead just ran dead.
Bristol regrouped and applied some pressure. Welsh gave away a really stupidly obvious penalty at a maul that will have had their coach spitting feathers. Bristol went for touch and promptly mauled over for a Mitch Eadie try. Gavin Henson struck the conversion wonderfully from right on the touchline and Bristol were 7 – 0 up.
And it was Henson who instigated the next move. He claimed the restart and a slight shimmy took him around the Welsh chaser, his kick spiralled away downfield. The bounce of the ball took it away from the sweeping defender and Tom Varndell sprinted onto the ball. Marc Jones was up in support and he received Varndell’s offload to crash over. Henson converted and Bristol were 14-nil up.
London Welsh tried to get back into the game but the Bristol defence withstood the pressure with some ease and forced a knock-on. Eadie pounced on the ball and popped the ball to Jack Tovey who somehow found the space to swerve his way over the line from a good distance out. He dotted down behind the posts and Henson obliged with the conversion. Bristol continued to hammer away at London Welsh and the hosts’ cause was aided by another foolish penalty. The kick gave Bristol good field position and they exploited it well, shifting the point of attack from side to side before Will Cliff wormed his way over for the converted bonus point try. Bristol then gave away a soft penalty of their own and the visitors went for touch. Bristol defended well only to give away another penalty. Sadly for Welsh the short range effort was kicked dead to the relief of the crowd and the team. Henson cleared any danger with a fine long range punt and the half closed with Bristol 28 – 0 nil in front.
How often have we hoped that Bristol would manage to ‘nil’ a side? Could they manage it this time? At first Bristol struggled to impose themselves in the second half before another outstanding kick from Jarvis turned the defence. Varndell was again chasing well and, claiming the ball, he showed great strength to force his way over the line despite three defenders clinging to him. Henson converted and Bristol led by 35 points.
Bristol attacked down the left wing with a ball hacked down field. This time it was Lemi in pursuit, he edged in front of the defender tracking back and headed the ball on only to be hauled to the ground. In a complete howler from the officials it was ruled as a knock-on. Justice was done when Welsh were promptly penalised at the scrum. Bristol continued to dominate and after a series of Welsh offences Snyman saw yellow as a Bristol maul was pulled down. Actually it could have been any, or all, of the three players at the bottom of the heap. Bristol tried to drive again but, with the line begging managed to knock-on.
Bristol attempted to increase the lead but, perhaps unsurprisingly, the intensity of their attacking play diminished. The replacements had little impact, unless it was to disrupt things. There was a brief cameo from the departing Morgan but little to impress in attack. In contrast the defence continued to hold firm in the face of a Welsh attack desperate to restore some pride. If the first half defence had ridden its luck then, in the final quarter, it was resolute and disciplined. Welsh just could not find the key to unlocking it as Bristol at last managed to hold a side to nil.pqs: qs:
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Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 2016:01:17:09:02:53 by SenorJuan.