By Richard Grainger
AS PREDICTED in last week’s column, the pick of the round seven matches was Bristol’s clash with Bedford at the Memorial Ground on Sunday.
Back-to-back wins in the British & Irish Cup have given Bristol’s season new momentum and it showed with a 23-13 victory over Bedford, unbeaten in the division before Sunday’s trip to the West Country.
The visitors, who have a dismal record at the Memorial Ground, led 6-10 at the interval thanks to a try, conversion and penalty from James Pritchard, in reply to two Tristan Roberts penalties.
“It was interesting talking to the players at half-time,” Head Coach Liam Middleton told the Bristol website. “There was a real sense that we weren’t prepared to lose this game. That’s a testament to the belief and character of this group of players.”
Bristol grabbed a vital first score after the break when centre Luke Eaves powered his way over for Roberts to add the extras, who also extended the hosts’ lead with a penalty.
Despite losing Kyle Traynor to the bin, Bristol sealed victory with a second Eves try , and this time Adrian Jarvis converted. Despite throwing everything into attack in the final ten minutes, Bedford left without even a losing bonus point.
It wasn’t all good news for Bristol, after confirming Bryan Rennie is ruled for the rest of the season with suspected cruciate ligament damage.
Congratulations to Jersey who also built on B&I Cup success to record their first Championship win on Saturday. This time London Scottish, who have now notched their third league loss away from home, were the victims at St. Peter’s despite their now customary late fight back.
Jersey flanker Guy Thompson finished off a Brendan O’Brien break for Michael Le Bourgeois to convert. Le Bourgeois added two further penalties to Phil Godman’s one to give the hosts a 13-3 interval advantage.
However, when Hannay was sent to the bin, the Jersey scrum conceded a penalty try before Jim Thompson ran the length of the field to capitalize on a break out by winger Miles Mantella. Godman converted to set up a tense finish but the Exiles had to make do with a losing bonus point.
“If you miss as many tackles and give away as many penalties as we did then it’s always going to be hard,” Exiles’ Director of Rugby Simon Amor told the London Scottish website. “Jersey deserved the win and we’ve got plenty of technical things to work on.”
On Saturday at the Mennaye Field, the Cornish Pirates made the most of their opportunities to defeat Leeds 21-8.
Matt Evans put the hosts ahead with his seventh try of the season, before Joe Ford pulled three points back for Leeds with a penalty.
However, despite Carnegie dominating the first fifteen minutes, it was the Pirates who kept the scoreboard moving with a try from Gary Johnson and two penalties and a conversion from Kieron Hallett, to lead 18-3 at the break.
As conditions deteriorated in the second half, so did the visitors’ ability to hold on to the ball and a try from skipper Jacob Rowan, who along with James Doherty received a yellow card, was all they had to show for their efforts. Hallett added a third penalty early in the half, to condemn Leeds to their second consecutive defeat on the road.
Plymouth Albion’s Jack Arnott opened the scoring against Nottingham at Brickfields on Saturday with a try after only 28 seconds, and when Paul Roberts converted and added a penalty it was looking good for the hosts.
Albion looked in control when Arnott gave them a 15-0 lead with his second, before the Green and Whites hit their stride. The visitors registered a 22-31 bonus point win over Albion, who had not lost at home this season.
It was business as usual at Kingston Park as Newcastle picked up their seventh win and sixth try bonus point, beating Rotherham 33-0. Tries from Rory Lawson, Scott MacLeod, Jonny Golding and Zach Kibirige had the game wrapped up before blizzard conditions reduced proceedings to survival for both sides in the second half.
Finally, Doncaster Knights got their first Championship win of the season beating Moseley 24-16 in a tight encounter at a frozen Castle Park.
So at the end of week seven, this leaves things looking like this: looking like this…
Follow Richard Grainger on Twitter @ Maverickwriter