By Freddie Keighley, Online Sport Editor and third year History student
Despite a loss under the lights of Coombe Dingle, Bristol’s first XIII produced a battling performance to be proud of against league leaders Cardiff Met 1s.
The only way was up for Bristol following a 38-6 loss away from home to Cardiff Met on the opening day of the season. However, the start to the game was not a good one for the home side.
Some motivational words from old boy @FrazerBayliss “hope you lads play well with Nathan scoring the 43.3767° N, 99.8590° W”— Bristol Uni RLFC (@UBRLFC) November 13, 2018
Come to watch the boys play at Dingle tomorrow at 17:00 for a huge game against Cardiff Met under the lights!
A knock-on following kick-off gave Cardiff Met a scrum in an attacking position. From this, they moved the ball left quickly and bundled over the line. The conversion was slotted through the posts with ease to give the visitors a 6-0 lead.
However, Bristol rallied well rather than capitulating as they did in the reverse fixture. Resolute defending was led by the quality, hard-hitting tackling of captain Harry Hickey.
Big hits and the unbreakable defensive lines from both teams kept the score 6-0 Cardiff Met until just before the break when Sam Beeston came off the bench to power over the line. Rhys Davies added the two points from the conversion and Bristol went into the break level at 6-6 and feeling they had a real chance.
Half-time was an opportunity to reflect on a highly physical game and the fact that Cardiff Met’s replacement bench was becoming increasingly depleted. Bristol were hurting too, and second row Mark Mitchell, central to a slick move early on in the half, was injured after knocks to the ribs and the head.
The second half picked up where the first had finished, with the boys in ‘maroon’ defending well. However, Theo Mayer put in a huge hit on his opposite number, dumping him into touch and causing a fracas on the sideline. The upshot was a yellow card for one of the Bristol freshers following the questionable decision to throw the ball at an opposition head.
Despite the numbers disadvantage, Bristol’s attack was looking strong, driven onwards by the man of the match performance of Peter Fentiman at hooker, who repeatedly picked holes in a tiring Cardiff Met defence. Despite sustained pressure, a lack of communication and a certain degree of ‘white line fever’ meant that Bristol didn’t capitalise.
With fifteen minutes to go and a penalty conceded by the away side, Bristol opted to kick for the two points. Agonisingly, Davies pushed it just wide and the score remained 6-6.
A late penalty at the other end of pitch put Cardiff Met two points up. Following this, after seventy minutes of steadfast defence, the line finally broke and the visitors scored their second try of the game. However, the Cardiff Met kicker hit the post from what appeared to be a reasonably simple area to convert from. Going into the final eight minutes, Bristol were still within touch.
A last-gasp attempt came from Alex Mayo following a scrummage situation. The loose forward cut through the line and the chance to salvage an epic draw looked possible, only for a solid covering tackle from Cardiff Met’s full back to earn the visitors the points.
It was no-doubt a frustrating loss for Bristol, but a big improvement when compared to the first game of the season. If performances like this continue, then UBRLFC could be eyeing up a second place finish in the Western 1A for the first time in their history. Other notable performances on the day came from Harry Creak, David Gray and Robbie Guthrie.
An away trip to fellow mid-table dwellers University of South Wales on Wednesday 28 November is the next fixture for Bristol.
Featured image by Smifsports
Do UBRLFC have what it takes to record their highest ever finish in the Western 1A this season? Let us know what you think!