Bristol (A) 11.11.1212/11/2012
Bristol Rugby 39 Jersey 16
by Tom Innes
Jersey battled gamely against a Bristol side determined to rebound from being thrashed in their previous outing, but finished a well-beaten side.
To the credit of the team in red their heads never dropped, even with six tries conceded as well as several injuries, a red card - for Ashley Maggs' tip-tackle - and two yellows. Bristol knew only too well what could happen when the wheels come off away from home, shellacked 63-7 at Nottingham in their previous outing; so a 23-point deficit had an element of respectability against a team of Bristol's pedigree, albeit one who have under-performed to date this season.
The home side had a brace of chances to score first on a sunny, still afternoon, but Adrian Jarvis missed both his attempts at goal. Mike Le Bourgeois also missed an early sighter from long range, but soon afterwards made amends after a fine Glenn Bryce run had secured a territorial platform for the Islanders.
Bristol soon took the lead when quick hands along the line made the most of an overlap and allowed winger George Watkins to score in the corner. The momentum of the game swung Bristol's way, and the volume levels from a crowd of 4,600 grew louder, roaring on their side as a rolling maul approached the Jersey line and was adjudged to have been taken down illegally by Jersey's Dave Felton. The hooker had been a late call-up after Steve Boden was deemed unfit, but now the Islanders were left without specialist cover with Sean McCarthy stepping in for his sin-binned colleague.
Although there were few scrums in the first half, the return of front-row veteran Jason Hobson seemed to inspire the home team, and when Richard Barrington came on to make up the numbers in Jersey's front row, Bristol won a free kick when the opposing scrum failed to engage correctly. The ball was twice tapped quickly and Red Pennycook forced his way over the line.
A loss of lineout ball, not for the first time, set up the hosts for another series of forward drives and this time Argentine lock Mariano Sambucetti forced his way over. Winger Dave McIlwaine was given the kicking duties after four straight misses by Jarvis and landed the conversion. Bristol pressed for a bonus-point score in the closing moments of the half but the Jersey defence held firm, the deficit 11 points after a second superbly-struck penalty by Le Bourgeois.
The visitors needed some early territory and points after the resumption, but instead it was Bristol who pressed. Their opponents had resolved not to kick the ball out of defence to minimise the danger of counter-attacks, but keeping the ball in hand brought its own risks and eventually the concession of a penalty for not releasing.
Bristol had paid a heavy price earlier in the season by going for a fourth try against Moseley before the game was won, and eventually losing. So here McIlwaine put over the penalty to stretch his side's lead.
Having spent around 20 minutes at full strength since Felton's return, Jersey lost another player, this time for good, when Ashley Maggs picked up Bristol's Jack Tovey in the course of tackling him. Though not speared into the ground, Tovey was adjudged to have been dropped 'without due care' by Maggs, and the homecoming for Jersey's Bristolian centre ended unhappily with marching orders from referee Carley.
Jersey's defence held firm during the next phase of the game, with a pair of 18-year-old recruits to the cause, James Voss and Chris Levesley, playing their part. But when a penalty offered a chance to raise the siege, Bryce missed touch and Bristol's counter-attack led to another yellow card - Guy Thompson for preventing quick ball - and a try for replacement hooker Rhys Lawrence within seconds of coming on.
The closing stages brought the usual multiple substitutions and opportunities for both Sambucetti and Lawrence to plunder their second tries. Jersey refused to cave in, and the decent showing of visiting supporters still had some noise in their throats as their team approached an attacking lineout deep into added time; after a couple of phases Barrington charged through a home defence that had previously held firm and dived under the posts.
Jersey, sponsored by Locate Jersey and jersey.com
Forwards: Sean McCarthy, Dave Felton (YC 19), James Gethings, Rob Anderson, Nathan Hannay (capt), Paul Rodgers, Kingsley Lang, Guy Thompson (YC 63). Half-backs: Nicky Griffiths, Mike Le Bourgeois. Backs: Ed Dawson, Ashley Maggs (RC 51), Donovan Sanders, Glenn Bryce, Barry Davies
Replacements: Richard Barrington for Lang (23-31) and for McCarthy 66, Brendan O'Brien for Griffiths 29, James Voss for Rodgers 50, Dave Markham for Rob Anderson 53, Chris Levesley for Davies 57, Jon Brennan for Gethings 66, Ed Tellwright for Le Bourgeois 74.
Bristol (15-9, 1-8): Jack Tovey; George
Watkins, Luke Eves, Ben Mosses, David McIlwaine; Adrian Jarvis,
Ruki Tipuna; Bruce Douglas, Ross Johnston, Jason Hobson, Mariano
Sambucetti, Roy Winters, Iain Grieve (c), Redford Pennycook, Mitch
Replacements: Rhys Lawrence (for Johnston, 61) Mark Lilley (for Douglas, 72), Wayne Thompson (for Hobson, 61), Ben Glynn (for Winters, 61), James Merriman (for Pennycook, 72), James Grindal (for Tipuna, 77), Tristan Roberts (for Jarvis, 77).
Man-of-the-match: Mariano Sambucetti
Referee: Matthew Carley
Tries: Watkins 15, Pennycook 24, Sambucetti 33, 67, Lawrence 64, 82
Cons: McIlwaine 33, 67, 82
Pen: McIlwaine 49
Try: Barrington 86
Con: Sanders 86
Pens: Le Bourgeois 12, 28, 57
Report reproduced by kind permission of the Jersey Evening Post