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By Ian Todd
November 23 2015

Bristol got their B&I Cup campaign back on track with a big win against the clumsily named Scarlets Premiership Select.  The decision of the WRU to exclude club sides devalues an already unloved competition and we saw nothing like the pride and passion (or support) that Welsh sides have brought before.  Bristol took full advantage of the nature of the opposition and that’s all we can really ask for.  

Bristol kicked off the game and after some awkward looking passing almost lead to an interception had a scrum put-in when Scarlets knocked-on.  Bristol were awarded a free-kick, a sign of the problems the visitors would have throughout the afternoon in the set piece.  However Bristol threw another intercepted pass and Scarlets reclaimed possession.  Bristol’s passing and offloading game was something of a curate’s egg, particularly early on.  There was some rubbish stuff, contrasted with some great pick-ups and quick ball.  I suppose you might say that the pick-ups off the bootlaces might be down to poor passing, which is fair enough, but credit is due to the skills that rescued the situation.  Scarlets knocked-on again and, once more, Bristol had a free-kick at scrum time and Bristol made some ground before Scarlets were penalised.  Gavin Henson went for touch and everyone knew what was going to happen next.  In fact the catch-and-drive move wasn’t very effective and the ball was shipped out before the pack reclaimed possession and went through a couple of drives to within a few metres of the line before Jack Lam pounced for a converted try.

Bristol looked to capitalise but the Scarlets defence scrambled back as Will Cliff burst into space and went on the attack themselves from turnover ball.  Bristol were penalised for not releasing and Lewis was spot on to make the score 7 – 3.   Bristol were unfazed and David Lemi went close with a typical darting run before Henson, slightly surprisingly, went for the posts from a penalty.  This was promptly cancelled out by another from Lewis.  Bristol then contrived to knock-on with some clumsy passing that actually struck James Phillips’ face.  Technically it wasn’t a knock-on of course, but such shocking accuracy didn’t deserve anything more.  Scarlets were penalised at the scrum and this time Henson went for touch.  The catch-and-drive seemed to lack urgency but it was certainly effective and Lam came away with his second converted try.

Scarlets claimed a Matthew Morgan chip ahead and made an excellent clearance kick only to see Lam hammering back at them.  He bounced off a couple of tackles before the ball was whipped out left, a nice take from Jack Tovey rescuing the move, and on to Lemi who made no mistake as he sprinted clear for a converted try that took Bristol into a 24 – 6 lead.  Bristol then gave away a penalty and Lewis narrowed the gap, but this perhaps revealed a lack of confidence that the Scarlets lineout was a useful source of points.  Bristol looked unruffled by the minor set-back and swept forward on the offensive.  Scarlets were penalised once more at a scrum and the referee had seen enough and banished Wyn Jones to the sin-bin.  The penalty went to touch and in short order Lam was in for his hat-trick.  Henson was off-target with the conversion attempt.  A man up, Bristol tried to cut loose but failed to hold on to the ball.  But the home side were not to be denied for long and some lovely handling released Jack O’Connell for a converted try on the stroke of half-time.

Bristol started the second period in much the same style as they had closed the first with both Lemi and Tom Varndell making dangerous breaks.  The initial momentum was halted by a break for an injury to the unfortunate replacement Rayn Smid who was only on for about two minutes.  Scarlets were penalised when play got back underway.  It was unsurprising that the ball went to touch, but Bristol eschewed the familiar catch-and-drive by quickly shifted the ball along the line and created a big overlap that Jack Wallace exploited for a converted try and 43 – 9.

The visitors were only back to a full complement for a few minutes before Elias was shown yellow.  Bristol drove the lineout and Ross McMillan was in for another converted try.  Bristol looked set for a big win but suddenly Scarlets kept hold of the ball for the first time in the game.  They went through phase after phase working their way forward.  Bristol were equally patient, not overcommitting, defending resolutely.  So good was the defence that Scarlets lost ground and ended up back on half way.  Sadly Bristol’s discipline cracked at this point and the hosts were penalised.  It was quickly taken and Williams darted forward on a jinking run that took him through a bemused defence and in under the posts to make it 50 – 16.

It was a temporary, but vexing, setback but replacement Adrian Jarvis launched a crossfield kick that initial looked too long and high.  But Varndell had other ideas, sprinting round the defence and plucking the ball from the air and plunging over for an unconverted try.  The winger finished off the game when a very nice inside ball opened up the defence.  A last ditch tackle brought him to ground but he wasn’t held and he scrambled over for a converted try at the death to leave the final score at 62 – 16. 

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Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 2015:11:29:13:51:53 by SenorJuan.

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