Sonics down Bulldogs in thriller

Bristol Sonics bounced back from the loss of their three year unbeaten home run in the Co-operative Rugby League Conference with a hard fought 34-46 win away at Birmingham Bulldogs. Last week’s loss to Coventry had taken it’s toll with a number of injuries that saw the Sonics give club debuts to Joe Hawkesby and Dean Hunt while Arun Simm made his Conference bow. Bristol were also able to welcome back second row Chris Carter and half back James Gross .
Playing uphill first half, the Sonics fell behind after six minutes when Bulldogs lively scrum half James Robinson regathered his own chip kick to go over out wide. Scores were leveled six minutes later when Paul Harsent sneaked in at the corner following a fine cross field handling move. The Sonics moved ahead after 15 minutes when James Gross managed to intercept Robinson’s pass to go virtually the length of the field. Captain Dom Swann added the extras.
The see-saw nature continued when the Bulldogs scored after 19 minutes with Andreas Kenny went over in the corner after supporting a break. Five minutes later, it was the Sonics turn with Martin Klijn making a break 10 metres from the line and stepping the full back. Swann added the extras to take the score to 8-16. The rest of the half though belonged to the Bulldogs. On 31 minutes Drew Harper grounded a kick ahead under the sticks, leaving Robinson an easy conversion. Robinson would convert his own try 4 minutes later as he broke through some disappointing defence to take the lead 20-16 at half time.
Whatever was said at half-time, seemed to have the desired affect as the Sonics burst down field with some powerful runs from Gary Carpenter and Wes Rogers. James Gross broke the line to add his second of the afternoon while Swann added the extras to regain the lead. The advantage only lasted a few minutes as again the Sonics’ defence was found wanting and Chris Barmforth was able to break some poor tackles to speed through out wide, although the conversion was missed. At this point the Sonics forwards began to take control. On 47 minutes, prop Stafford Lloyd grounded under the sticks having supported a Dom Swann break.
Two minutes later, it was Wes Rogers’ turn as he supported a fine break from centre John-Jo Burden. Swann converted both scores to take the lead out to 24-34. Bristol’s resolve as Gary Carpenter was sin-binned for an altercation. Yet down to 12 men, the Sonics defence finally clicked as not only did they hold out for the whole 10 minutes, they added a converted score of their own through captain Swann. Birmingham threatened a comeback on 67 minutes when Ryan Wickett supported a break to score and convert. Yet 2 minutes later, the Sonics clinched the game albeit with a slice of good fortune. Pressing on the fifth tackle, James Gross’ grubber kick took a cruel deflection of an unsuspecting Birmingham leg, allowing Gross to regather and go under the sticks. Swann added the extras to take the lead to 30-46.
The Bulldogs were to have the last word when Danny Norton went in out wide although the conversion was missed.
Sonics captain Dom Swann was pleased with the win, ‘