By Joe Harvey
September 23 2012
When was the last time Bristol scored five tries away from home and still suffered a crushing defeat? I can't say, but that's what it was. The first half saw Leeds run rampant and Bristol looking as if they were still warming up. Bristol actually managed to 'win' the second half, but that was scant consolation in a defeat that shows just how much needs to be done if Bristol are to mount a credible promotion challenge. Even the play-offs might be out of reach on the first half performance.
What can one say about Bristol’s first half performance?
There, that was it. The visiting side offered essentially nothing and were perhaps fortunate to be only 27- 0 behind at half time having managed only one noteworthy foray into their opponent’s half. Yes, Leeds played unusually well in front of the bumper crowd of about 1800, but frankly Bristol looked lethargic and disorganised. The third try just before the close of the half epitomised all that had gone before with terrible all retention, poor alignment and shockingly poor tackling allowing Wilson to lope in beneath the posts.
Liam Middleton doubtless had plenty to say at half-time and either it worked or Leeds had switched off. A bit of both probably, but in any event the Bristol pack took the ball up and it went out to Tagicakibau to cross out wide. And what do you know, more good work from the pack (and a piece of dozy defending it must be said) and Lawrence was over for another unconverted try.
Hopes of an unlikely Bristol comeback were effectively dashed when, following a Leeds penalty, the ball squirted out of a ruck and Burdon claimed it and raced away to score the killer try. Bristol, creditably, did not capitulate and more relaxed Leeds’ defending allowed Townson to rumble over for his first try for the club (I think). This one was converted. But the hosts lead was unassailable after two more penalties. Leeds confirmed their near total dominance with another well worked try that saw Rowan in under the posts.
Amazingly there was still time for Gadd, who actually looked pretty good out there ( I hope being part of such a resounding defeat doesn’t knock his confidence), to show skill as well as strength in getting another Bristol try, albeit with some more relaxed defending. And finally Matt Williams went over very late. Still despite a 5 try-all game, the score of 50 – 31 didn’t really reflect the ease of the Leeds victory. Bristol know they were on the end of a thumping.