Warrington Wizards taught newcomers Bristol Sonics a harsh lesson with a powerful all round display.

Coming off an encouraging performance against Kippax Knights, home hopes were high that the Sonics could surprise a Wizards’ side playing for the first time this season.

Such optimism was tested from the start as a knock on from the kick-off put the Wizards on the attack with only a superb Harry Marson tackle keeping Warrington out.

It was not long until the Wizards made their superiority count when, on four minutes, a Paul Alcock break put lively hooker Hayden James in between the posts, Graham Healey adding the extras.

Five minutes later, the lead was extended when Alcock capitalised on dithering in the Sonics’ defence to ground an Alan Redecliff grubber, Healey again converting.

The Sonics’ woes were then compounded when an accidental clash of heads saw influential Marson leave the field.

On 14 minutes, the Wizards went further ahead when James scored his second, this time put in by the posts from a fine pass from scrum-half Healey who goaled.

If that looked ominous, on 23 minutes some tired defending saw Ryan Jones break clear out wide and cantered round to give Healey another easy shot at goal which maintained the point a minute barrage.

Having put together 25 minutes of near flawless of rugby, it was perhaps inevitable that Warrington would make mistakes and the Sonics finally began to get some field position.

On 27 minutes, some poor Warrington defending allowed loose forward Joe McKenna to burrow under from close range to open the Sonics account, Dom Swann converting.

Five minutes later, things got even better for the hosts as a clever ball from Swann was taken at pace by prop Sammi Charad, Swann again converting to reduce the deficit to 12 points.

Any hopes of a home comeback were quickly doused as on 36 minutes, another fine pass from Healey was taken by the excellent Wizards’ full-back Troy Brophy to burst through, leaving Healey the simplest of conversions.

With the Wizards threatening further scores, the half-time whistle came at the right time for the Sonics with the score 12-30.

The start of the second-half saw a more cagey opening with both sides making errors.

On 49 minutes Warrington effectively put the game beyond doubt when Mike Stout crossed having broken several weak tackles on the Sonics’ right side defence.

Healey converted and two minutes later, Paul Reynolds scored in similar circumstances, albeit further out wide.

The best try of the game came on 58 minutes as the excellent Brophy took a fantastic Healey pass at speed to majestically glide through the wilting Sonics’ defence.

If that score had a touch of class, the Wizards’ next try had a dash of comedy.

Big prop Dan Crampton managed to break tackles deep in his own half and sprinted three-quarters of the field just reaching the line before the despairing defenders could catch him.

While the try caused much amusement among Warrington fans in the grandstand, Crampton needed to be replaced after his exertions, Healey landing his eighth goal.

Despite replacements running low, Bristol defended their line with admirable grim determination.

The cold, windy conditions did not help attacking rugby and it was no surprise that a handling error produced Warrington’s final try in the 76th minute.

Trying to get out of their own 30 metre area, an ambitious Swann chip for the Sonics was fumbled by James Raymond and landed in the grateful arms of Christian Taylor to go over in the left-hand corner for the Wizards’ tenth try.

Sonics coach Karl Fearnley reflected ruefully on the loss.

‘We knew moving up a division we’d be playing much stronger sides and Warrington have taught us a lesson today.

‘I thought the lads showed a lot of guts and we’ll be stronger for this.

‘We’ve got a few players to come back and we can look forward to the rest of the season with confidence.’
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BRISTOL SONICS v WARRINGTON WIZARDSSaturday 28 April 2012, Clifton RFC, Cribbs Causeway, BristolBristol Sonics’ captain Dom Swann says his side are keen to make amends for the “sloppy mistakes” which cost them victory last weekend.The Sonics played well in patches against Conference League 3 heavyweights Kippax Knights last Saturday, but were let down by missed tackles, handling errors and a number of poor options in attack.Now Bristol face another tough test in their second Conference League 3 encounter – a visit from another of amateur rugby league’s big names, Warrington Wizards. The Wizards have yet to play a game this season after their opener at Bramley Buffaloes was postponed, and Swann hopes that they head to Bristol underprepared.Dom Swann said:



Bristol Sonics captain Dom Swann has told his players to expect their “toughest challenge yet” when the club’s first Conference League 3 campaign gets underway at Clifton RFC on Saturday (K.O 2.30pm).The Sonics face stern opposition in the shape of last year’s Rugby League Conference National runners-up Kippax Knights, and Swann is under no illusions about the task facing his charges.Swann, the only current player to have been with the Sonics since their ill-fated first season in 2003, is expecting a tough challenge on Saturday. He said: “This will be our toughest challenge yet. Conference League 3 is one of four divisions featuring the best amateur sides in England. It is a huge step up from the level we were playing at last year and we’ll have to be at our very best to compete. Kippax Knights have been one of the strongest sides in the division over recent years, so we’ll have to play an almost flawless game if we want to get off to a winning start.”In preparation for the campaign, Sonics head coach Karl Fearnley has enlisted the help of nationally-renowned strength and conditioning coach Mark Hammond, who has previously worked with England Rugby League internationals Sam and Joel Tomkins. Thanks to his input, the Bristol team that takes to the field at Clifton RFC’s Station Road ground on Saturday will be the fittest and strongest yet.Sonics Head Coach Karl Fearnley said: “The players have been working incredibly hard in training to meet the physical demands of playing at an elite level of amateur rugby. They’ve done all we’ve asked of them and more. When we cross that white line on Saturday we’ll be ready. It”s hard to know where we stand in comparison to other teams in the division, but we couldn’t have done any more pre-season.”The Sonics are one of three new teams in Conference League 3 this season, but the only club with no previous experience at this level – making them favourites to struggle in the eyes of many tipsters. But Fearnley believes a few teams are in for a shock this year: “We’ll be competitive, there’s no doubt about that. We’ve worked incredibly hard on our defensive structures and we’re looking as sharp as ever in attack. We have some great backs and some strong forwards, so if we get it right we’ll go well. It’s not going to be easy, but we’re ready for the challenge.”Saturday’s game will be the first of five Conference League 3 fixtures this season played at Station Road, home of Clifton RFC, following a deal between the two clubs that may, in future, see the Sonics become full-time summer residents of the National League 2 South union club.Karl Fearnley said: “I’d like to put on record our thanks to everyone at Clifton, and particularly their Head of Rugby Darren Lloyd, for welcoming us to Station Road this season. It’s a top class facility befitting elite amateur and semi-professional rugby of both codes. We look forward to putting on a



Winless Bristol Sonics face the toughest test of their Conference League 3 credentials yet this Saturday – a tricky trip to champions Huddersfield-Underbank Rangers.The Sonics have made a faltering start to their first campaign in Rugby League’s elite national competition, losing two homes games to established teams from the game’s northern “heartlands”. Now they face another difficult test against Huddersfield-Underbank Rangers, many pundits’ tip to top this year’s table.Having lost 54-12 to Warrington Wizards last weekend, the Sonics will need to up their game to compete with a strong, physical Rangers side keen to put Bristol in their place.Sonics captain Dom Swann promises an improvement from last week’s performance, which was littered with handling errors and poor tackling. He said:Dom Swann said: